Rebecca Martinez, “Portrait 9”, 2012, from the series “preTenders”, archival silver halide print, 24×16″.

Rebecca Martinez

“preTenders” explores different aspects of artifice and our impulses to create illusory situations and objects to fulfill various needs – emotional, spiritual or psychological. In photographing dolls that are created to look like living babies, I am struck by the strong and palpable emotional reactions they produce. They are the most powerful objects I have ever worked with, creating strong emotions for the bearer, holder, and observer even when it is known the baby is not real.

For several years I have been photographing the community of women who create and love these dolls. I have been attending their conventions and events such as baby showers and baby beauty contests. Most of the women I have encountered who are part of this community are exceptionally loving nurturers and caregivers. They have an especially strong passion for babies and this is a method to keep them in their lives. There is a wide range of personal stories and motivations for being involved in this community. Some create or collect these dolls because they cannot continue to give birth, or have lost a child, or cannot have one of their own. Some women admire the art form and are doll collectors, others adopt and create nurseries in their homes and integrate the babies as part of their families and lives. I am struck by the emotions these dolls produce, provoking the dominant biological instinct to nurture while exposing the entire spectrum of human behavior.

Rebecca Martinez (San Francisco, CA) has exhibited her work in solo exhibitions at San Francisco venues including SFMOMA, Sightings Gallery, and Robert Tat Gallery, where her work is represented along with Jayne Baum Gallery (NYC). Her work has also been featured in group exhibitions at En Foco (NYC), Stephen Wirtz Gallery (San Francisco, CA), Richmond Art Center (Richmond, CA), Barrett Art Center (Poughkeepsie, NY), and is in the windows of Bergdorf Goodman (NYC). Her work is in numerous private and corporate collections, as well as the Crocker Art Museum, University Medical Center at Princeton, and Lehigh University. Martinez was awarded En Foco’s New Works Photography Fellowship Award in 2010. Rebecca Martinez was an artist-in-residence at CPW in June of 2010.