Meet the Faculty: Professor Ray MartinSep 8, 2017
Ray Martin, Professor of Fine Arts
MFA in Painting and Drawing,
MEd in Art Education, K-12, UNC-Greensboro BFA, East Carolina University
Rockingham Community College’s Professor of Fine Arts, Ray Martin often sees his students as a younger version of himself.
Martin joined the faculty at the college in 2012. He spent the previous 20 years teaching at Greensboro College in addition to participating in the North Carolina Arts Council Master-Apprentice program. Martin’s first job after college was teaching art, drama, and journalism in a rural high school setting. Prior to his teaching career, Martin worked in various factories, warehouses, and farms.
“I think my experience working as a hard laborer from a poor family gives me an amplified appreciation for the challenges of young people today; especially the struggles some of my students face,” said Martin.
In the classroom, Martin focuses on teaching students that art represents the life and mind of the learner. The artwork itself focuses on energy, but the student gains from the experience of exploration and realization of mindfulness as part of the learning process.
“I advise my students to follow their interests and passions,” said Martin. “There is always a place in the world for someone who masters their chosen discipline and loves what they do.”
Outside of teaching at RCC, Martin has participated in national, regional, and stand-alone exhibitions. Over the years, he has been the recipient of several grants from the North Carolina Arts Council, was selected as an Outstanding Alumni of East Carolina University’s School of Art, and was twice chosen as Faculty Member of the Year while at Greensboro College. His art has been selected as “best in show” in the last three exhibitions in which he participated. Martin has designed book and record album covers, and his work has been featured in various publications and appears in hundreds of private and public collections.
“My art is an exploration of two constant visions: I conjure allegorical and metaphorical dreamtimes,” Martin said. “These images typically incorporate multiple media and tread the line between storytelling and the ineffable.”
Most recently O’Henry Magazine commissioned Martin to create a new cover for a time-honored book that at one time or another was banned.
Martin selected The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck since both the book and the classic film affected the development of his personal growth and idealism.
“I made sure not to refer to previous covers rendered in order to avoid their influence,” Martin said. “Mindful of the intrinsic drama in the well-known Battle Hymn of Republic: ‘Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; He hath loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword; He hath trampled out the vintage where the Grapes of Wrath are stored’ said Martin.
“I sought to capture the turbulence of an unkind fate, but offer the possibility of hope, as evidenced by the Yellow Brick Road in the famous film, Wizard of Oz. Both the film and the Grapes of Wrath were released in 1939. It seems to me both are flip sides of the same hopeful and fateful coin.”
Martin used raw materials such as cotton and shattered glass in his assemblage to conjure a visceral experience. He chose an actual wooden crate dating back to the Great Depression as the canvas.
“I tried to depict that sometimes the only practical choice of reality is hope,” explained Martin.
For more information on the Associate in Fine Arts program of study at the college, contact the Admissions Office at 336-342-4261, ext. 2333.
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