Sienna Martz: Eco-Conscious Textile Artist
The foundation of our Game Changers Section is to gain a better understanding of the artist and their background. Firstly, we would love to get to know you a little better! - and then move on to why you choose to create art with waste plastics and what is the main message you're trying to push through with your art?
1. How would you describe your story and how did you come to work as an artist?
From a young age, I knew I wanted to be an artist. Perhaps, at first, it was because my dad - Jasun Martz - is a sculptor, paintor, and musician who I totally idolised. But regardless, my parents really nourished my passion for artmaking and as I grew into adulthood it became so evident that this was my journey. I was fortunate to study sculpture and fibre arts at The Tyler School of Art and from there, my career has grown into something my childhood self would be in awe of. My journey has had its highs and lows and questionable moments, but something I learned from my dad is to keep creating regardless of what life throws your way. And now, as I’ve entered into motherhood and am navigating what it means to raise a compassionate little human while pursuing my art, my path has taken on a whole new meaning and I feel like I’ve embarked on an entirely new journey.
2. I can see from your about.me blog post, ‘NO ORDINARY SCULPTURE ARTIST: SIENNA MARTZ’, that you were working on fashion related sculptures. What made you shift from this to installations or do you still work with textiles on the body?
Wearable art was a huge part of my early work. I was really drawn to haute couture in college and exploring sculptural forms that moved with the body. I used to make custom wearable designs for musicians, dancers, and even a museum in Seoul, South Korea! And while I hold wearable art close to my heart, I found working with the body too limiting for my personal practice and decided to explore soft sculptures in more depth.
3. What led you to choose to work with eco-friendly textile materials?
When I became an ethical vegan years ago, the shift in my values and lifestyle transformed so many different aspects of my life - from what I eat to what I wear, what companies I support, and ultimately how I create my art. For the first time in my artistic career, I became aware of the horrifying environmental impact of animal-derived materials that dominate the fiber art and textile industry. So I made a pledge to never allow my art to contribute to the animal agriculture industry and I started exploring textiles made from plants like organic cotton, mushroom leather, and bamboo; and recycled synthetics made from plastic waste. I think it’s really empowering as an artist to weave sustainability and cruelty-free practices through every aspect of creating.
4. What message are you trying to translate through your art?
I love that my artwork’s bright colors, abstract shapes, and playful compositions often evoke a sense of happiness and peace. And deep down, my art is a way for me to examine the adaptability of biological organisms on an abstract level through installations and wall art. I’m also really interested in sparking dialogues about how, through time, we see the Earth reclaiming and taking over the marks that we, as humans, have left and how our actions are met with repercussions by nature to establish balance.
5. What are your influences when it comes to creating your art?
Every aspect of my art is inspired by the natural world around us - from the materials I use to the shapes that I create. The intricate details of nature and how organisms grow is a huge source of inspiration.
6. I would love to talk to you about your sculpture ‘SLURP’. I can see this has gained quite a bit of traction on your page where you’ve even created the mini versions of them. What were your aims and intentions in starting this? What was the influence for this specific piece?
This sculptural series has been pure play for me! It’s a perfect example of my process when I want to explore contrasting textures that can seamlessly exist with each other. You have the snipped fringe body with the smooth falling tassel bursting from the center. It all comes together to create a deliciously playful and seductive sculpture just asking to be touched!
7. Given all your sculptures that are currently viewable on your website, what was your creative thought process in the creation of these works? Is there something in particular that links them all together (other than the medium)?
My process is quite intuitive and so when I create a sculpture, it really speaks to that specific time in my life. In the early stages of creation, I get a spark, or perhaps a craving, to explore different texture combinations, color palettes, and materials. So each and every sculpture has its own personality, its own being, and its own imprint from the timeline of my life. But I think what connects them all is my love for alternative material manipulation blended with traditional textile techniques!
8. Do you see yourself moving away from textiles or mixing textiles with different mediums? What do you see yourself working with/on in the coming years?
Early in my artistic career, I experimented with other mediums like woodworking, ceramics, glass, printmaking, and metals - but nothing spoke to my soul and fulfilled my creative cravings quite like textiles! So I definitely don’t see myself moving away from textiles, but I would love to take a more collaborative approach to my artmaking and combine textiles with clay, wood, metal, and beyond. I’ve recently pledged to work more exclusively with second-hand materials and in the coming years, I really want to scale up my work and create massive installations that feel like you're walking into the presence of large and continuously growing organisms taking over man-made spaces.