UPTOWN — A young Filipino-American artist steeped in grassroots activism will lead Uptown’s contribution to Ten Thousand Ripples, a public art project designed to highlight "unity through diversity."
Trisha Oralie Martin, 29, a California native and Bridgeport resident, specializes in paper art and book art.
Noting the varied population of Uptown, Martin said, "I think we will create some pretty interesting work with the diversity of ages and backgrounds.”
Her planned four workshops at the Uptown Arts Center, 941 W. Lawrence Ave., includes seniors, children, shelter residents, art enthusiasts and neighborhood artists.
“[I've] never worked with such a mixed group of people all in one class,” Martin said. “Bringing them all in together at one time is pretty interesting."
Martin is experienced working with communities to create art that highlights local problems: the 2012 Columbia College graduate’s thesis exhibit, Breathing in City Clouds, featured Bridgeport youth creating multi-media works about the effects of coal fired power plants in the community.
The goal of that project, she wrote, was to foster "art as action" where people "create art to communicate an issue that is important to the community.”
From 2007-2009 Martin worked with A Reason To Survive, a San Diego arts organization focused on children.
In the Uptown effort, her first workshop “will be based on text and creating illustrated poems through a lot of writing,” she said.
The idea is to get participants to write about themselves and then talk about their friends, family and the neighborhood to tap into a spirit of interconnectedness, she said.
Other workshops will include lessons on papermaking, designing and creating sculptural books, Martin said.
The project will also feature participants venturing into the neighborhood to create “impromptu books,” added Colette Adams, Uptown Arts Center director and curator.
“This is a real creation by people in the neighborhood — for people in the neighborhood,” Adams said.
An exhibition of the art efforts is scheduled for early May at the arts center.
Adams said Martin was chosen because “she was going to do something a little bit more unusual in terms of the general public view of art, because her specialty is paper and bookmaking.”
The 10,000 ripples project is geared toward “peace activity and peace work, and diversity and unity,” which also worked in her favor, Adams said.
Martin moved to Chicago in 2009 to attend an interdisciplinary book and paper arts MFA program at Columbia College after finishing undergraduate study at San Diego State University, where she studied printmaking and painting.
Education and activism runs in Martin’s blood, she said.
Martin's father was an activist in the Philippines during his college years and her grandfather — “the biggest influence” to her work — founded an agricultural college, she said. She also has several teachers in her family.