Antonio Martinez, a photography professor at Southern Illinois University, trained and participated in the popular sport of MMA as a way to understand why male amateur athletes, young and old, would follow a desire to participate in such a violent sport during their leisure time. The resulting photography series, How to Hug and Other Sublimations of Men is an expressionistic interpretation of the modern sport of mixed martial arts, aka cage fighting, yielding painterly studies of young men experiencing moments of vulnerability and physical duress as they perform in a theatre of sport and manhood that conflates violence and intimacy between two men whom compete to win the respect and praise of spectators.
Antonio Jacob Martinez earned his BFA in painting at Creighton University in 2001 and an MFA in photography at East Carolina University in 2005. Antonio has been teaching photography courses at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL since 2005. His first notable body of work, Near the Egress, grabbed the attention of Houston Fotofest 2010 reviewers such as Jim Casper of Lensculture, Robert Rauschenberg of Blue Sky Gallery, and Lisa Sutcliffe of SFMOMA, for its non-conventional use of modern tintype photography and stop-motion video. Years later, Antonio presented his cage fighting series, How to Hug and Other Sublimations of Men, to reviewers and collectors at the Houston Fotofest 2016 and PhotoNOLA 2016 portfolio review session, and, again, received praise for pushing the boundaries of post-production photographic techniques. Antonio is currently learning the craft of quilt making to produce a series of photographs about anonymous male sperm donors. The first of this ongoing series will be viewable at the KANEKO center in Omaha in the summer of 2018 as part a traveling exhibition.