Holly Ballard Martz returns with Pattern Recognition, her second solo show with Zinc Contemporary. This exhibition of mixed media sculpture is a response to our politically charged time. Whereas prior exhibitions saw the sculptor turning inward to explore an interior landscape, Martz now puts the spotlight unwaveringly outwards towards her fellow citizens, elected officials, and world leaders, highlighting the pitfalls of collusion, silence, and the dangers of going backwards. In psychology and cognitive neuroscience, pattern recognition is the process in which incoming stimuli is matched with information retrieved from memory – it is the basis for learning. Martz utilizes text and found objects to examine patterns of behavior and thinking, confronting her own latent biases and those woven into our national fabric. Martz proposes that we use pattern recognition as a form of unlearning by highlighting patterns that have become so ingrained as to render them invisible. Only by acknowledging systems of oppression can we hope to challenge them and ultimately change them.
Pattern Recognition finds Martz chemically bleaching all color from American flags, reducing them to an eerie white-on- white textile; an effective stand-in for anti-immigration and pro-white sentiments in contemporary political circles. Vintage x-ray viewers illuminate the myth of colorblindness as it pertains to race. She morphs dozens of wire coat hangers into the shapes of the female reproductive system, a slow and painful process that is an exercise in endurance for her hands, and is also representative of the slow and painful trudge towards full reproductive rights for women in America. And men's detachable shirt collars are stacked in a column, a monument of white male dominance.