Cuban artist Maria Martinez-Cañas

The Hoboken Public Library is hosting a series of art events featuring Latin American artists for Latin Heritage Month. During the month of September, art classes will focus on different Latin artists and present their work. Students will create projects based on each artist. On Wednesday September 15, 2021 Cuban Artist Maria Martinez-Cañas will be the subject of discussion. She is of Cuban and Puerto Rican descent. Martinez-Cañas is best known for experimental photography. She creates photogramsas, which blend photography and light.

36 pages of Printing-Out-Paper Photograms (pictured above) is one example of her unique works. In this piece, a string of lightbulbs illuminates Polaroids. The dark piece is mysterious yet brilliant.

The artist was born in Cuba and left the island with her parents at four years old. She lived in Miami and then Puerto Rico. She began her artistic journey with a Polaroid Swinger camera. Her mother gave her a Twin-Lens Rolleiflex that she brought from Cuba. Martinez-Cañas became fascinated with photography, particularly the laboratory element of the craft. Her strong interest led her parents to build her a dark room in her home. When she was just a teenager she won a prestigious photography award at the First Festival Of The Arts at Colegio Puertorriqueño de Niñas. She continued to build her craft throughout her high school days. In fact, she became the photography editor of her school yearbook. Eventually, the talented young artist attended the Philadelphia College of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

She has had an illustrious career, winning numerous awards including the a Fulbright-Hays grant. This grant enabled her to travel to Spain, where she explored Christopher Columbus’ discovery of Cuba. She also won a Photography Fellowship from the National Endowment For The Arts earlier in her career.

Maria Martinez-Cañas is definitely a Cuban artist worth honoring. Her contribution to the world of photography is respected worldwide. Some of the most prestigious museums have exhibited her photography. Some of these include  Lowe Art Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

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