Last fall Milliken named Martínez Celaya – an artist and writer – as a Presidential Professor to the university for a three-year period (2007-2010). He joins former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser as Presidential Professor.
An important aspect of Martínez Celaya’s appointment is delivering public lectures while he is in residence. He spent one week at UNL last fall and will spend a week at UNL this spring; next school year he will concentrate his visits at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. On this visit to UNL, Martínez Celaya will give two public lectures, as well as conducting a seminar and presentation on his studio operations for graduate students at UNL.
"As a Presidential Professor, Enrique Martínez Celaya is providing unique educational opportunities in the fine arts for our students and faculty, but also for other interested Nebraskans," Milliken said. "We are delighted to have an artist of his stature teach, lecture publicly, and invite our students to work with him."
In Lincoln, Martínez Celaya will present a public lecture at 6 p.m. Monday, April 14, titled, Art in Museums, and at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 16, titled, The Work of Enrique Martínez Celaya, held at the Sheldon Museum of Art. Receptions will follow both lectures, free and open to the public.
During his three-year appointment, Martínez Celaya will work with art students and will lead faculty and graduate student seminars and colloquia on art, philosophy and literature. In addition, students will have the opportunity to participate in internships in Martínez Celaya’s studios in Florida and California.
Note: A photo of Enrique Martínez Celaya is attached below. Additional information, including interviews with the artist, a full c.v. and links to his blog can be found at www.martinezcelaya.com.
Enrique Martínez Celaya (b. Cuba, 1964) majored in Applied Physics at Cornell University and pursued a Ph.D. in Quantum Electronics at the University of California, Berkeley where he was supported by a fellowship from the Brookhaven National Laboratory. He attended the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture in Maine and received his M.F.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was an Associate Professor at Pomona College and the Claremont Graduate University and is a Visiting Presidential Professor at the University of Nebraska.
His work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Museum der Bildenden Künste Leipzig and others. His awards include the Anderson Ranch National Artist Award, the California Community Foundation Fellowship, J. Paul Getty Trust Fund for the Visual Arts, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's Art Here and Now Award and the Hirsch Grant.
In 1998 he founded Whale and Star, a publishing house whose books are distributed internationally by the University of Nebraska Press. He lives and works in Delray Beach, Florida, and Los Angeles, California.
Artistic Practice (www.martinezcelaya.com)
The Abstract Expressionist painter Barnett Newman once said, "An artist paints so he has something to look at and sometimes an artist writes so he can have something to read." This statement expresses very well Enrique Martínez Celaya’s diverse visual and literary artistic practice. He deploys painting, sculpture, photography, drawings, prose, and fiction to produce comprehensive aesthetic environments that explore the capacity of art to clarify and extend understanding of what the artist calls, "basic questions of existence."
Martínez Celaya’s work picks up philosophical, theological, and even scientific discourse about the nature of reality and experience, about the failure to "truly" understand while at the same time achieve some understanding. Although these environments function as discrete projects that might consist of works from a diversity of media dependent upon his intentions, they are momentary, temporary, tenuous answers to the existential questions he poses. Their cumulative relationship derives from the pressure these past answers impose on the present.
This approach bears the influence of Heidegger’s quest for the ground of Being and Kierkegaard’s reflections on the wager and risk of faith. But at its essence, the reductive clarity of his visual vocabulary reveals his work to be profoundly poetic in nature. Neither an "abstract" nor a "representational" painter, the familiar images that emerge in Martínez Celaya’s surfaces, such as trees, solitary human figures, streams, landscapes, and flowers are best understood as "concrete" or "objective" subjects that open the viewer onto an expansive vista of experience. This compact vision, which pushes familiar objects and images beyond their familiarity, finds its correlation in the prose of the Argentine Jorge Luis Borges, the poetry of the German Jew Paul Celan, Lithuanain Tomas Venclova, and, most recently the Swede Harry Martinson, and Russian Osip Mandelstam.
His most recent projects, shown in Japan, New York, Aspen, Miami and San Francisco, have gravitated around Kierkegaard, Martinson and Mandelstam, whom Martínez Celaya uses to frame his questions. These recent environments are predominantly very large paintings made with glazes of oil and wax, a layering process that bestows on the work a luminous and mysterious quality that contrasts sharply with the rawness of his handling of paint. Characteristic of this recent painting is the predominance of this glowing light, a light that, following Heidegger, "discloses" experience. Given the considerable weight that his work must bear, as Kierkegaard observes, it is laden with the ethical consequences of personal decisions.
Whale and Star Publishing (www.whaleandstar.com)
An important part of Enrique Martínez Celaya’s work is Whale and Star, a press that the artist founded in 1998 in order to publish accessible meaningful books, commission graphic and sculpture editions, and encourage collaborations among artists and writers.
Its publishing activities are embodied in three areas. The monographic publications, which carefully examine artists and their process; artists and writers series, which offers readers the best of world literature, art and poetry in affordable and accessible editions; and the innovative "Working Book" series, which produces concise and accessible books in a wide range of subjects related to the ideas and practical concerns that interest artists, writers and their admirers and scholars.
Publications include studies of artist Joseph Beuys and poet Charles Baudelaire, and, more recently The Conversations: Interviews with Sixteen Contemporary Artists by critic Richard Whittaker, and XX, a collaboration between the Cowboy Junkies and Martínez Celaya, which commemorates the critically acclaimed band’s 20th anniversary. In addition, Whale and Star offers the Kappus Prize, which rewards poets with their first published book. Whale and Star publications are distributed by the University of Nebraska Press.