Subject Matters: Sebastian Martorana in Sculpture

Icon: Sam the Eagle, marble, 19 x 12 x 12 in.

Icon: Sam the Eagle, marble, 19 x 12 x 12 in.

Contemporary artist Sebastian Martorana incisively carves stone sculptures which traverse a range of subjects. Working primarily in marble, Martorana charges the oldest of artistic disciplines with the concerns of a contemporary generation. He has embraced a direct approach to sculpture.  Martorana often works from observation, sculpting from life using tools fabricated to achieve the required effect over the surface of stone. Where elements of his work appear forthright and effortless, they are in fact the result of a skillful approach to artistic traditions, reveling in passages of texture, pattern, volume and form that are by turns humorous, familiar and politically-charged.

Subject Matters is organized by the Ogunquit Museum of American Art.  This concise survey of the past ten-years presents twenty-one sculptures drawn from both his studio and private collections. This will be the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in New England.

This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of Sparhawk Oceanfront Resort and Barbara and Richard O’Leary.



When I drop my children off at daycare or school I experience a minor amount of anxiety. I don’t like to admit it, but I do—and we have excellent childcare.


I can get worried when I can’t get in touch with my wife when she is out with the kids, because my head will go to the worst possible nightmare scenario given even a brief period of uncertainty as to the whereabouts of my family.

I CANNOT even begin to fathom the crippling horror and fear that must overcome a parent that has had their child taken away from them with no sense of where they are and when they will be reunited.

I am not “sad.” I am enraged.

Sadness is what one feels after an accident or a natural disaster. Those are tragedies. What has happened to families at the boarder is an ATROCITY—not a tragedy. It was done on purpose to be punitive and inflict the greatest possible damage. There was no plan for reunification. Even if there was—it cannot be undone.

There is no “fixing” this. Even IF the U.S. Government meets the goal of 100% reunification by the “deadline” (just hours away), this trauma will be permanently etched upon these children and parents as though it were carved in stone. That is a metaphor, but not hyperbole. Look at the research.

While this event cannot be undone, those responsible for it can. This was done by a specific group. That group was given power through an election. And through an election that power can be taken away.

Silence, inaction or a vote in support of those who would cause this to occur is tacit support of the worst behavior of and against humanity. A choice to abstain from voting is the same, perhaps worse.

No political party that would support this should remain in power. I will not layout voter statistics here, but in short, voter apathy allowed this to happen. We cannot undo the atrocity that has occurred, but we can prevent it from happening again.

I feel rage.

I hope you feel it too.


Unseen, marble, 28 x 15 x 4 in.

Unseen, marble, 28 x 15 x 4 in.

“Unseen” began as a reflection on the amount of artwork that is produced but never seen.

How many people actually “see” artwork? Most people that “see” artwork actually haven’t. They have seen pixels. Fewer people have actually seen my artwork in person than have experienced it in the form of curated photos posted via the internet on screens no bigger than their fists.

Going further—how much of my “work” have people really seen? Do they see each hour spend spilling specks of marble on the shop floor? Do they see the chisels sharpened or unique files made? Do they see the years of training that allowed me to attempt each piece in the first place?

Further—apply that to all products. We see the result, but not the process. How much labor went into the design and fabrication of even just the protective cases that surround our cell phones? Do we think about the loom that wove our clothing? or its operator?

Unseen, marble, 28 x 15 x 4 in.

Unseen, marble, 28 x 15 x 4 in.

The texture of the cloth in Unseen is based on my examination of the simplest of fabrics—flour sack dish clothes (my wife and I use a collection in our kitchen, hand stitched and embroidered by her grandmother, from actual flour sacks).

The sculpture has the peaks and valleys of the fine warp and weft threads.

However, only with focused, directional light they are revealed. This is true of nearly anything in life—it can been seen clearly if one views it in the proper light.


Latent, marble, 4 x 16 x 14 in.

Latent, marble, 4 x 16 x 14 in.

Often, the most exciting pieces I make happen when collectors say: “What do you really want to do next?”

This can be intimidating since you are being put on the spot and there is pressure to have an idea immediately.

Luckily for me, my work takes so long that I will literally never catch up with the running and ever changing list of potential artworks in my head.

Also, one of my favorite things about visual art is that it speaks without words, however sometimes you do need to be able to articulate an idea before actually making it. In this case I was very fortunate that they were interested in seeing my vision. Thanks, T & L.

photography: Geoff T. Graham


Latent, marble, 4 x 16 x 14 in.

Latent, marble, 4 x 16 x 14 in.

Latent, marble, 4 x 16 x 14 in.

Latent, marble, 4 x 16 x 14 in.