PhillyFolk Artists

Marta Sanchez

Mexican Painter and Craft Artist

Born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, Marta Sanchez is deeply inspired by traditional Mexican folk art expressions. She earned a MFA in Painting from the Tyler School of Art, Temple University and a BFA in Painting from the University of Texas at Austin. She is recognized primarily for her ex-voto/retablo paintings, an offspring of traditional Mexican prayer paintings. Her works on paper are mostly linocuts and monotypes in the social and cultural traditions of Mexican and Chicano/a Art. Recent work includes paintings of the San Antonio train yards near her childhood home that explore the role of trains in the Mexican migration. Another series is inspired by Carpas, traveling circus and vaudeville troupes that performed throughout Mexico, and by stories of Sanchez’s great-grandfather, a lion tamer in the golden age of the Carpas, who died at a young age from a puncture wound received from a lion. Ms Sanchez’s Carpas-related serigraphs were published in Transcendental Train Yards (Wings Press, October 2013), a collaboration with Chicana poet and folklorist, Norma E. Cantu.

Since 1992, every spring, Sanchez has organized local artists and children throughout the Philadelphia area to create and sell brightly colored confetti-filled cascarones painted confetti-filled eggs—donating the proceeds to the “Cascarones Por la Vida Art Fund” (which she founded) to assist youth affected by HIV/AIDS. She says, “I started to paint cascarones, at first just to share with my friends. I missed my family, and in the spring, I would make the cascarones and surprise my friends by sneaking up on them and breaking them over their heads. (This is what the tradition is: little confetti-filled explosions for good luck!) It was actually interesting to see grown adults smile and try to get back at me with a cascarone. Something wonderfully childlike would transpire between everyone that participated. After I shared them with friends for a while, I decided to sell them and to pick a cause for children, since cascarones were for kids. At the time, the HIV/ AIDS epidemic was having a big impact on families that needed not only financial support, but also unconditional acceptance and love. That’s why I created Cascarones por la Vida. To make art that helps others, to have art have a function—that was and is my motivation for the cascarones. I wanted to help someone, to acknowledge and show them unconditional love while demonstrating an uplifting pride in my culture. The cascarones art project is a positive expression of Hispanic culture in a time when the mass media portrayed Hispanics in a less positive way.”

Ms Sanchez teaches at The Philadelphia Museum of Art, St. Joseph University, and the Springside-Chestnut Hill Academy. Her work is in the collections of The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The State Museum of Pennsylvania, The McNay Art Museum, The Fine Art Museum of St. Petersburg (Florida), The National Museum of Mexican Art (Chicago), and in actor/director Cheech Marin’s extensive private collection of Chicano Art. She participated in his show, “Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge” which traveled throughout the United States (2001-2006), and will be included in Marin’s new exhibition, “Chicanitas/size does not matter,” featuring small works from his collection. Ms Sanchez’s work was also be included in an international traveling exhibition, “WE ARE YOU,” reflecting the life of Latino/as in America.

Ms Sanchez participated in PFP’s 2012 Community Supported Art (CSA program). Each CSA shareholder received a dozen painted cascarones—six painted by Ms Sanchez and six created by community members.