Moody Project Wall: Gabriel Martinez, Resolution

Temporary Public Art | Community-based Artwork at the Moody

October 04 - December 16, 2023
Moody Center for the Arts | Flex Studio
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Launched in 2021 with the goal of fostering cross-campus and community engagement with the arts, the Moody Project Wall is a collaborative effort between a Houston-based artist and Rice University students. 

For this iteration of the series, Gabriel Martinez focuses on the Codex  Borgia (also known as the Codex Yoalli Ehēcatl), one of the few Aztec codices to have survived the Spanish destruction of Indigenous texts during the sixteenth-century conquest. Now held by the  Vatican Apostolic Library in Italy, the manuscript provides essential insight into precolonial  Mesoamerican iconography as well as spiritual and cultural practices. 

Martinez, currently an Artist-in-Residence at Rice University’s Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning (CERCL), is interested in exploring the circulation of cultural memory through material histories, as well as issues surrounding cultural imperialism and appropriation. The image presented here features two Aztec gods seated back-to-back— Mictlāntēcutli on the left and Ehēcatl on the right. Excised from their original context in the Codex Borgia, the forms are abstracted into pixels, hand-painted by the artist and student volunteers. As an object that remains at the Vatican, the Codex Borgia is primarily accessible in printed and digital reproductions. For the artist, the act of pixelating the image from the Codex Borgia references its fragmentation across time resulting from its digital circulation, while raising questions about access to, and ownership of, the original. Such complexities are reflected in the project’s title, Resolution, which simultaneously references the degree of detail visible in an image, the process of reduction or separation, and a state of resolve or determination.

Thank you to the Rice students who contributed to this project, including:  Angelina Puente-Perez, Rice University ’25; Daniela Bonscher, Rice University ’25; Harshitha Pelaprolu, Rice University ’24; Christina Franco, Rice University ’25; Joohye Lee, Rice University ’27; Danna Garcia Moreno, Rice University ’25; and Alara Seeborg, Rice University ’27

About the artist: Gabriel Martinez (b. 1973, Alamogordo, NM) graduated with an MFA from Columbia University and attended the Whitney Independent Study Program before moving to Houston as a Museum of Fine Arts Core Fellow and artist-in-residence at Project Row Houses. He is the director of Alabama Song, an experimental arts space in Houston founded in 2012, for which he was awarded a Robert Rauschenberg SEED Grant. Martinez was a 2022 Robert and Stephanie Olmsted Fellow at MacDowell and was awarded the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant, and the Houston Arts Alliance Support for Artists and Creative Individuals. His work has been exhibited at the Blaffer Art Museum, Houston, TX; Artpace, San Antonio, TX; the Houston Museum of African American Culture, Houston, TX; The Holocaust Museum Houston, TX; the Station Museum, Houston, TX; and Rice Media Center, Houston, TX.

This installation is organized by the Moody Center for the Arts, with support from Rice University’s Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning (CERCL). The Project Wall is made possible by the Moody Center for the Arts Founders Circle.