Meet the Artist: Ana Martínez Orizondo

The artist's collection "Tree Stories" was recently on display at The Chequit on Shelter Island.
Amo 31

Artist Ana Martínez Orizondo. Photograph by Lorin Klaris.

“We are all artists,” Ana Martínez Orizondo says. “It is a matter of if we pay attention to or ignore our creativity.” Orizondo decided to acknowledge her creativity over the past few years and has shifted into drawing full-time. Perhaps her career path foreshadowed this—for the first 15 years of her career she worked in television production, including with MTV Latin America, Univision, and Telemundo. She also had her own company promoting cultural arts in Miami. For the next 15 years, she fundraised and worked as a non-profit executive. Orizondo was always creative—journaling, photographing, and writing short stories, poems, and songs.

Orizondo was born in Cuba, but grew up in Queens, New York. As an introverted child, she spent much time sitting near the window, staring at the tree outside. “I’m talking hours, I would sit by the window and look outside at the tree,” she reminisces. One time, after gazing at the tree for so long, “the unknown appeared” to her. “I saw the unknown, I saw what is not there. It allowed me to see beyond what is,” she says. That marked the start of her infatuation with trees. “Trees have a special place in my heart because they teach me to use my senses,” Orizondo says. “They heighten all of my senses to a sixth level.”

Her collection, “Tree Stories,” was on display at The Chequit in Shelter Island. She was the first artist-in-residence to exhibit at the recently updated hotel.

She had been dreaming about doing something creative all her life, and after much reflection sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic, she put in her resignation. Now, she is a full-time artist. “I don’t call it work,” Orizondo says. “It has been my full-time obsession.”

Mating Season Triptych 2022high Res Jpg

Mating Season triptych, 2022, soft pastels on three, 19.5″ x 25″ panels of shizen paper.

How did you ultimately become an artist?

This is my third career. I am an example of what I draw, which is a lot about transformation. We always have an opportunity to remake our lives. We are our own creators. Many of us follow the ladder of success—I think I spent most of my life doing that. And then I realized, ‘wait a minute, I can do whatever. I can create my own reality.’ This is the latest transformation of my life.

“Tree Stories” was recently featured at The Chequit. What can you tell us about the collection?

Each piece is inspired by a real tree that I’ve seen. Most of them are from Central Park, Shelter Island, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. My three go-to places. They are abstracts. They are not meant to be realistic images of trees, but they are all based on real trees, so for every one of those trees I do have a photo. And I do have a story behind each of those.

How do you look at trees when turning them into art?

I look at bark as markings of memory—universe memory, cosmic memory. It’s almost like looking at hieroglyphics and trying to understand what this tree—that has been here a lot longer than I and will stay here much longer than I will—has to tell me. What does it have that I can learn from?

Tell us the story behind the triptych Mating Season.

There’s a group here on Shelter Island called Friends of Trees. I took a tour with this group, and one of the trees they showed that has a special history is a maple by the Shelter Island Courthouse. I took a picture of it and it became Mating Season. I called it Mating Season because I felt it was so fertile and welcoming of life. Like arms spread, everything was spread wide ready to reap a new season.

How did you choose to focus on this specific tree for Mating Season?

There are trees and then there are trees that pull me. Most of the time there is a form that I’m looking at. I take a picture, and then I look at all the photos I take. But this one, in particular, was so expansive.

How do you choose which colors to use in a particular piece of art?

I play with the photo on my computer. There are certain things that don’t appear to me right away. Only when I look at it for a long period of time, does it reveal itself. And then I start to see colors in the bark. If I really do close-ups or saturate the photos, colors reveal themselves. Then, I take it to another level when I am drawing. If I saw red, I might do fuchsia. It’s something that happens during that process, which I call sacred. It really is a sacred time.

06 Reverberations I 2022

Reverberations I diptych, 2022, soft pastels on two panels of 25″ x 19.5″ shizen paper.

What can you say about Reverberations I, II, and III?

Reverberations I, II, and III were born out of me staring at my floor. I have wood floors and I think about transformations. There’s the tree, and it became my floor, and my floor became art inspired by this tree and its markings. They are inspired by floorboards, that to me, are a bunch of forms under my feet. There’s memory under my feet, there’s history under my feet—because it originated from a tree.

Will your artwork continue to be inspired by trees?

I am starting a new series, “Tree Stories II.” As an artist, I felt I was done with my artistic journey and I am going into another part of my artistic journey.

You have a collaboration with Gabriela Hearst. How did that come about?

I believe in the sustainable practice. Gabriela Hearst’s whole fashion value is based on sustainability. She loved my work—she actually is one of my collectors. One of the pieces she bought is called Winter Horse. She wanted to collaborate and then it became one of her looks in the Fall/Winter 2022 collection, which is going to be revealed. This process goes back to my theme of transformation. I took a picture, a picture became art, and the art became a poncho.