place + repeat: Steef Crombach & Andrea Muñoz Martinez

Cloud Tree - Austin, TX

January, 2019

Place + Repeat pairs the work of Steef Crombach and Andrea Muñoz Martinez, two Austin-based artists whose cultural identities affect their practices and processes and the ways in which a viewer perceives their work. Their unique perspectives explore how one preserves one’s culture while processing the implications of new environments. By looking at the practice of each artist and their work in relation to each other, and in relation to the current political climate, questions arise regarding access, mobility, and safety. We also must examine if an artist’s practice, medium or process can stand alone without or despite a deeper understanding of the artists’ personal background and/or privilege. Furthermore, how is an artist’s practice, medium or process affected by their position in their environment? How does an artist’s work change depending on the environment in which it is seen? And, can an artist make work that activates the political and cultural sphere while remaining safe in the face of current political tensions? Beyond the developed abstract compositions and thoughtful studio practice of each of these artists, this exhibition examines how artwork belies deeper questions in regard to each artist’s personal history and identity.

 

Crombach questions cultural associations of objective and non-objective imagery through the traditionally Indonesian practice of Batik. Historically, the wax resist process of dyeing fabric has been appropriated by traders world-wide, making its way to Holland in the late 19th century where it was adapted and mass-produced. Crombach, growing up surrounded by Batik fabrics every day, applies the art form to present new perspectives while paying homage to Holland.

 

Growing up on the border of Texas and Mexico, Martinez’s familial experience was shaped by the effects of border violence. Martinez uses repetitive mark making and rich color to subtly explore the idea of a physical border that restricts or grants access. What then become large-scale non-objective paintings serve as comfortable and energetic access points for others to interpret an experience they might not be able to relate to otherwise.