Voodoo Dolls A Go-Go
Colorado Latinos/as to Know and Support: November 2022
My name is Amber Star Martinez, many know me by "Amberama". I was born and raised in Colorado, the first eighteen years of my life in Aurora and in 1996, I moved to Denver. I've been in Denver ever since. I'm aggressively yet tenderly navigating my way through my mid forties while raising my 15-year old sophomore in high school and rooting on my 20-year old child as he lives the college and work life. I'm a proud Chicana with Creole roots who loves to create and make waves in the art world.
My artistic journey started when I was a small child, I loved to doodle, color, create and be in my own world of making things. Teachers would ask me, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and I would tell them that I wanted to be an artist and here I am. Some of my art is self-taught and some of it I learned by watching instructional videos on YouTube, particularly how to silversmith. There is no reason why I create art other than it's always been a passion of mine; creating art runs in my family, it's ingrained in my heart and soul. It's something I was meant to do.
As far as work, I'm a licensed crisis and trauma interventionist, and I'm a social media manager for a woman owned small business here in Denver. For fun, I love to hang out with my kids, go to shows (I love music so much), photograph everything, visit the hills, drink copious amounts of coffee, take naps, I'm obsessed with the moon and the stars, and I love collecting many things that none of us have time to read about.
You can view my art in person at Museo de las Americas during First Fridays and meet me at various events. You can view my work online through Instagram and my website. I am currently working on hand stitched dolls for Dia de los Muertos. You will be able to find these dolls online and at Museo de Las Americas on November 4th where we will celebrate Día de Muertos during the First Friday Art Walk.
What kind of art do you make? What mediums and techniques do you use?
I create dolls, paint on canvas and make jewelry. Fabric, paints, upcycled and recycled metals, wood, animal bones, acrylics, beads, stones, gems, resin, and glass are just some of the materials I use to create. Hand stitching, painting, stamping, silversmithing, electroplating, engraving, carving, molding, dyeing, soldering and beading are just some of the techniques I use.
How would you describe your work?
My work is a juxtaposition between my cultures/roots and the macabre.
About "Eztli" pictured above: This doll was a spur of the moment piece, I felt inspired to create him due to how I was feeling on that particular day. His colors are inspired by North American Indigenous and Mexican Indigenous art.
What is the purpose of your art? For example, do you create as a form of therapy, to convey a message, or simply to make something beautiful? I've always found beauty, pain, and all of the other emotions that we are capable of feeling when I see, hear or make art. My inspirations in creating art come from my cultures and my roots but it also comes from what I have experienced in my life. It is most certainly a cathartic process and often times serves as therapy when I am knee deep in a process of creating anything. Art is subjective, so I never guess or want to presume what people feel or think when they see my creations. I want people to find their own meaning through what I make, especially if they take the time to view and study it.
"Lezine" - 2022 - Brass Earrings "Tora" - 2022 - Brass, Abalone Shell and Ethically Sourced carved Buffalo Bone Earrings
What moods, feelings, thoughts, or questions are you trying to evoke from your audience with your art?
Feeling and thoughts are personal, so I think that if anyone can feel anything at all when they view my work, I'm on the right path.
What work are you most proud of and why?
I'm proud of all of my work. From day one, I set out to follow my dreams, to make my passion come alive, do something for myself, to make myself proud and I am doing that every time I create something new. Art has humbled and shaped me to do better for myself, it has allowed me to grow, to heal and to share my vision with others and that is all I can ask for.
Tell us a bit about being a Latino/a artist or the Latino/a artist community.
Being a Latina in the Latino/a/x artist community has brought me closer to my roots, it has allowed me to learn and study more of where I come from. I've met so many beautiful souls in the Latino/a/x artist community and I'm so grateful for that, I am excited to get to know more people and create more conversations about our art and why our roots and cultures within our art and how we live our lives are important.
About "Citlalicue" pictured to the left:
This is my representation of an Aztec woman, with her brown skin, symbols, vibrant colors, and her decorative design.
Do you incorporate your heritage/identity/culture into your work?
Absolutely. I definitely incorporate my my culture and roots into my work. Being Chicana, having Mexican Indigenous blood with Creole roots, I couldn't imagine not being inspired to incorporate my cultural and ethnic identity when it comes to my creations. My cultures are very important to me, it's a big part of who I am as a person but who I am as an artist as well. I was raised in a very artistic environment whether it be visual arts or music arts, it surrounded me and it has always been imperative that I continue down that path not only for myself but for my children as well.
How is your heritage/identity/culture reflected in your work? What do you hope to share with the viewer?
Between using color palettes that include bright, vibrant colors and even the use of skin-coloring and shades to really pay homage to my ethnicity is very essential in showing my love and respect to my cultures. I think I tend to use the particular colors I choose based on how I feel at that moment of creating and in my brain, who knows what the viewer will see when it's all finished. I like to surprise myself. I hope that one who views my work understands and sees that my roots are incredibly important and sacred to me.
About "Basquiat" pictured to the right: My love for Basquiat's work has always been strong. He is one of my artistic heroes, so I sat down one day and painted him. I wanted to give him a pop of color like he always did in his artwork, I also wanted to show a little of myself in there as well.
All images are the property of Amber Star Martinez.
Some content may have been edited for clarity.