María Martínez-Cañas

born Havana, Cuba 1960
Also known as
  • Maria Martinez-Canas
  • María Martínez Cañas
  • Maria Martinez Canas
Havana, Cuba
Active in
  • Miami, Florida, United States
  • American

When María Martínez-Cañas was three months old, her family emigrated from Cuba to Puerto Rico in the wake of Castro's political revolution. She developed an early "child-curiosity" with cameras and eventually she studied photography in Philadelphia and Chicago. In 1985, Martínez-Cañas received a Fulbright-Hays grant to study in Spain for six months, exploring Cuban maps from the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries that recorded Spanish explorations of the strategically positioned island. The trip had a profound and lasting influence on her work, as she explains: "For the last few years my work has dealt with the search for a personal identity … the daily life of Cuban culture before the revolution, family stories, memories of Cuba where I was born but have no recollection of. After a while, I find myself with a terrible need of discovering, on my own, that which has been so unknown for so long. I am dealing … with a terrible sense of … separation, and alienation. I have always experienced a desire to belong to a 'particular place.' "

Jonathan Yorba Arte Latino: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (New York and Washington, D.C.: Watson-Guptill Publications, in cooperation with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2001)



Media - 2011.12 - SAAM-2011.12_1 - 77591
Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art
October 24, 2013March 2, 2014
Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art presents the rich and varied contributions of Latino artists in the United States since the mid-twentieth century, when the concept of a collective Latino identity began to emerge. The exhibition is drawn entirely from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s pioneering collection of Latino art. It explores how Latino artists shaped the artistic movements of their day and recalibrated key themes in American art and culture.