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Jamie Martinez: The Shadow of Colonialism

May 10 - June 8, 2024

Jamie Martinez: The Shadow of Colonialism

Curated by Emireth Herrera Valdés

May 10th – June 8th , 2024


Opening night May 10, 6-9 pm

“The shadow–that hidden, repressed, for the most part inferior and guild-laden personality whose ultimate ramifications reach back into the realm of our animal ancestors.”

Carl Jung 

In Jamie Martinez’s solo show, The Shadow of Colonialism, history reverberates through time, posing questions to the collective unconscious and inviting reflection on the past to understand the present. Through performance and sculptures, Martinez exposes the profound repercussions of colonialism on both individual psyches and societal structures.

At the core of this exhibition is Carl Jung’s concept of the "shadow," representing the hidden, unconscious aspects of our personality that we suppress or deny—traits perceived as undesirable or shameful and often projected onto others instead of acknowledged within ourselves. Martinez, born in Colombia and raised in the United States, analyzes his own identity within a continent grappling with enduring colonial shadows. 

At the heart of the exhibition stands a towering figure—an inflatable 15-foot Christopher Columbus—symbolizing historical significance. This performative sculpture evokes the dominant narrative of conquest and triumph that has overshadowed indigenous voices and histories in the Americas. Columbus embodies the triumphalist narrative of colonialism, yet deeper understanding prompts viewers to confront the shadows lurking beneath the surface. The most significant element, however, is the deflation of the towering Christopher Columbus figure after its rise. This act evokes a departure from the typical narrative of the conquistador always triumphing, re-examining the narrative of the Americas from the perspective of native peoples. By deflating Columbus, Martinez challenges the overpowering conquistador narrative that has historically dominated discussions about America, allowing marginalized voices and alternative histories to emerge.

Four clay-covered books, including Letters from Mexico by Hernan Cortes to Emperor Charles V, symbolize the brutal realities of conquest and exploitation, highlighting the erasure of indigenous voices from historical narratives obscured beneath layers of colonial propaganda. 

In Martinez’s work, clay symbolizes reclamation and endurance against historical scars from the Conquistadors, preserving the energy of items like the sword. Martinez intends to seal his sculptural objects in non-fired clay for potential use in the afterlife. By incorporating raw crystals, he reclaims the indigenous narrative of America, aligning with natural energy and vibrations. As part of his creative process, Martinez performed rituals like cleansing the crystals with salt and water and charging under the full Worm Moon on March 25th, 2024. These practices infuse Martinez's work with a profound connection to nature and indigenous traditions.

Jamie Martinez's solo show, The Shadow of Colonialism, conveys reconciliation, reclaiming silenced narratives. By examining the shadows of colonialism within his own unconscious, Martinez’s work achieves a balance–a radical acceptance of the shadow while also looking forward to new paths for understanding and change. 

Special thanks to Summer Johnke, trauma-focused Licensed Master Social Worker, for her professional insights and contributions.


Jamie Martinez (b. Ibagué, Colombia) is an interdisciplinary artist who explores the intersection of history, research, indigenous spirituality, and ancient beliefs. His art includes paintings, sculptures, and installations that serve as a commentary on colonialism, mysticism, labor, and ceremonial gatherings.

Martinez’s work has been featured in major outlets such as Hyperallergic, CNN, New York Magazine, The Observer, Newsweek, The Daily Beast, Yale University radio WYBCX, NTN24 (TV interview), Good Day New York (TV interview), Fox News (TV interview), Whitehot Magazine, Whitewall Magazine, and more. He has exhibited at the Queens Museum, Petzel Gallery, Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery at the New School, 601 Artspace, Penn State University, Spring Break Art Show, Collar Works, Galerie Richard, Whitebox NY, The Gabarron Foundation, Flowers Gallery and all over the world. His artwork is included in the permanent collections of The Marina Tsvetaeva Museum in Moscow, Russia, The Acuity Brands Corporate private collection in NYC, The Gabarron’s Foundation collection in New York and Spain, Foursquare headquarters in NYC,  and various additional private collections.

Emireth Herrera Valdés (born in Saltillo, Mexico) is an independent curator and writer based in New York. Herrera has curated exhibitions such as Invisible Hands at 601Artspace, S.T.E.P. at the Queens Museum, Whispers at Spring/Break 2023, Tongue Tide, and 3459' at Flux Factory in New York. In collaboration with the Border Gallery, she co-curated the exhibition Invisible Bodies at Pennsylvania State University. She also co-curated Grilo/Fernández-Muro at the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, in collaboration with the Institute of Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA). She has participated in educational programs between the MARCO Museum in Monterrey, Mexico, and the Autonomous University of Coahuila. Her project, From Vulnerable Territory to Utopia, was presented at the AROS Museum in Aarhus, Denmark, and at the Museum for All People: Art, Accessibility, and Social Inclusion, a part of the MUSACCES Consortium at Complutense University of Madrid, Spain. Additionally, her articles have been published by The Brooklyn Rail, Arte Fuse, and ISLAA's VISTAS and Cultbytes in New York. Herrera has worked in the education department of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library, and New York University. Currently, Herrera is involved in organizing the creation of murals in the city of New York as part of the Arts in Medicine department at New York City Health and Hospitals. Herrera holds an M.A. in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU and a B.A. in Architecture from the Autonomous University of Coahuila. 

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