Between the freeways of 5 and the 99, there are rows of fields as far as the eye can see.
The sun is high and hot, the fields are lush, and they are filled with thousands of farm workers. Their faces, arms and legs are covered to protect from the sun and the toxic pesticides used on the crops. The work is backbreaking, and yet, they are almost invisible. Martín Zúñiga, from Michoacan, Mexico, had his first introduction to the United States in these fields and is the product of this experience.
An autodidact in work and art, Martín has learned his craft by doing. After the fields, Martín worked in construction, learning the skills he would soon transfer to his art – welding; framing; understanding the strength and qualities of wood, metal, paint, plasters, lighting. Martín’s experience as a migrant, as an undocumented worker, as a Mexican-American in the United States, as a man who speaks in an accented English, and as a target of undeserved police attention, shapes his art. However, his art claims and celebrates a new world, one that recognizes and honors his roots.
Martín completed a series of public art pieces in downtown Salinas (Central Coast) and downtown Selma (Central Valley), celebrating the cities’ workers and their contributions to the unique character of small, rural cities. More recently, Martín has taught and led art workshops at the Museum of Sonoma County, the Restorative Justice Program, and in Roseland Unified Schools.