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Artist Feature: Martina Loncar

In this installment of our Artist Feature series, we shine a light on Martina Loncar, a talented mixed-media artist and the winner of the 1st place adult category in Sitar’s 13th Annual Patricia Sitar Juried Exhibition. Martina also recently served as a juror for the 14th edition of the competition. Martina’s work explores the profound connections between trees, humans, and the communities we build. She uses paper-cutting and collage to create playful and bold works that celebrate nature and the importance of fostering strong relationships. Let’s dive deeper and discover what inspires Martina to create and the message they hope to convey through their art.

How do you define your art style? What led to the discovery of your art style?  

As a mixed-media artist, my work explores how trees and humans are connected to their environments through deep-rooted networks of care. I use paper as my primary medium, and I began using paper cutting and collage in my work in 2021 after working as a teaching assistant for artist Sarah Dolan. Sarah taught several units on drawing, book binding, and paper folding during my semester with her. I guess I always thought of paper as a boring medium, but she opened my eyes to all the different possibilities that it has to offer. It’s exciting to take a simple material and transform it into something new and unexpected. Since my work is about trees, paper is also the perfect medium. I would describe my style as playful, bold, and rooted in themes of nature and community (no pun intended).  

“In the Company of Trees”
Martina Loncar  Solo Exhibition, 2023
Sitar Arts Center’s Cafritz Gallery

What motivates you to continue creating?  

It’s cheesy to say “creating feels essential to who I am,” but I think that it’s true! I’ve continued to make art through the happiest and most difficult times in my life, and it’s something I keep returning to in order to process my feelings, ideas, emotions, etc. Many of my pieces are inspired by my relationships with my friends and family, so my studio has become a place where I can process, celebrate, and honor all that comes with these relationships. There’s a meditative aspect to the repetition that comes with paper-cutting and collage that I’m drawn to, too. Apart from feeling like creating comes naturally to me, I maintain a strict studio schedule so that I can keep myself accountable with my art-making. Life gets busy, and it’s easy to push creative time to the side when other responsibilities pop up. Treating my studio time as a non-negotiable commitment helps me continue to keep thinking about and making art on the regular.  

What kind of legacy would you desire to leave with your work?  

When you take a step back from the trees, my work is all about connection and our relationships to one another. For me, trees and their root systems serve as a model for how we, as humans, can better support one another through our lives–particularly through times of suffering and hardship. My ultimate message is that we have a responsibility to take care of one another. Being human is hard! There are so many aches, heartbreaks, and pains mixed in with the pleasures, joys, and love that exists in our lives. The people who are there for us through these ups and downs make all the difference. My hope is that my work can help illuminate all the ties that bind us together.  

What is usually playing on your playlist while you’re in the studio?  

Oh, this is a tough question. My music taste is really scattered! I guess I’m a fan of throwing on some oldies when I’m in the studio. You can’t go wrong with some “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” or “Have You Ever Seen the Rain.” Over the past few months I’ve also been going through a Noah Kahan phase. His album Stick Season is currently one of my favorites. Honestly, if you trailed me to my studio for a week, I’d have a different genre playing every day. Even some of my parent’s favorite Croatian rock or folk songs make it into the mix from time to time.  

Describe your favorite piece. 

It’s hard to pick a favorite, but “Hold My Hand” (2022) will always be special to me because it was my first time combining collage and paper-cutting on a large scale. I made “Hold My Hand” during my final year in the MFA program at American University. The background is made of black paper, which I tore up and collaged back together again. At the time, I was grieving the loss of a close friend and thinking about the feelings of falling apart and rebuilding oneself up again. After the pandemic, I was also thinking about the broader topic of community and of individuals coming together to support one another. I always like when I can convey these overarching themes through my process somehow. Another feature that you may notice in “Hold My Hand” is the anthropomorphic forms in the root system. I like giving trees human characteristics, like hands, to help my viewers see themselves within the work. Adding these kinds of elements also welcomes different interpretations from my audience. I aim to keep my work open-ended because the relationships that exist between trees, humans, and one another are complex and deserving of diverse perspectives.  

Martina Loncar, “Hold My Hand”, 2022, 50 x 50 inches,
Lithographic crayon on mixed media collage

Do you have any other upcoming exhibitions?  

Yes! Since we last spoke, I’ve installed my work at my local community coffee shop in Takoma Park, MD. Takoma Park has such a vibrant arts scene and I’m proud to be a part of it. It’s also great to see the valuable role that spaces like Takoma Bev Co. can play in supporting local artists and fostering creativity in the community. Apart from this, I’m also thrilled to share that I have an upcoming solo show at VisArts in Rockville, MD towards the end of the year. I’m creating an entirely new body of work specifically for this exhibition, and unlike my recent black and white pieces, the work in this show will incorporate some subtle pops of color. It’s been an exciting journey of experimentation, and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together! 

Do you have any dream projects you aspire to bring to life?

Definitely. I’d love to publish a book of my art and poetry one day. I started writing poems last year after the passing of a dear friend, but sometimes these poems and my other written work feels a bit too personal (or silly) to share with others. I’m slowly getting over that hurdle. Vulnerability is scary, but I think it’s an essential part of what I’m making work about. I’m determined to make this dream a reality one day!