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Visual Artist Robert Martinez Joins "A Handful" Of Natives Honored With The Governor's Arts Award

Governor Mark Gordon honored five Wyoming artists with the 2019 Governor's Arts Award, including visual artist and graphic designer Robert Martinez. Martinez is Northern Arapaho and Chicano, and grew up in a family of talented painters and beadworkers on the Wind River Reservation. He draws and paints portraits using bright, contrasting tones in a style intended to challenge the viewer's assumptions of what Native people and Native art should look like.

"You see many depictions of Natives as black and white or sepia toned, and that connotes to a dead culture," Martinez said. "So, one of the things I was doing with this bright paint was I wanted to show that we're not dead, we're alive and strong."

Wyoming Public Radio's Savannah Maher visited Martinez at his studio outside of Riverton and talked with him about his work and what it means to be one of only a few people of color ever awarded the state's top artistic honor.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Savannah Maher, at smaher4@uwyo.edu.

Savannah is a Report For America corps member. 

Savannah comes to Wyoming Public Media from NPR’s midday show Here & Now, where her work explored everything from Native peoples’ fraught relationship with American elections to the erosion of press freedoms for tribal media outlets. A proud citizen of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, she’s excited to get to know the people of the Wind River reservation and dig into the stories that matter to them.
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