Marta Pérez García, Restos-Traces: The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C

31 March - 28 August 2022

Marta Pérez García's art explores in a poetic way a wide range of human conditions, from fragility and vulnerability to strenght and survival. Her recent work, created during the COVID-19 pandemic, addresses the troubling yet rarely discussed increase in domestic violence. Due to stay-at-home orders, especially toward women and children. Her Intersections project Restos-Traces speaks to that.


Restos-Traces is comprised of almost 30 female torsos constructed with handmade paper and added elements including wire, nails, metal, spikes, hair, teeth, and old film negatives. The bilingual title reflects the artist's background as a native Puerto Rican living and working in the continental US. The Spanish word restos, means remains or ruins and when combined with the English word traces, the title alludes to the recollection and preservation of memories through visual storytelling, in this case memories of brutality, abuse, and trauma. Unlike the woodcut prints saturated with vivid colors which she is best known, Pérez García's torsos are muted, ranging in skin tones from light to dark.


Modeled after standard female manequins, they are similar in size but differ in appearance and expression. Some are dressed and others are more sexualized; some are hurting while others are fighting. They are at once eerie and beautiful, fearless and dignified. What gives them bearing and power are their accentuated spines symbolizing resistance, tenacity, and continued existence. As Pérez García's puts it, "I try to give, in a way, visibility to the women who are not here anymore, but at the same time for us to see in these bodies our own lives."


Through printmaking, mixed-media, and now papermaking and sewing, Pérez García creates highly palpable and intense artworks whose poignant narratives are driven by feelings of pain and pleasure, suffering and healing. As such they enable visceral and emotional connectedness between the viewer, the subject matter, and the artist, producing spaces of compassion. In other words, Pérez García's torsos are cathartic markers of victory over violence.


Vesela Sretenović, Director for Contemporary Art Initiatives and Academic Affairs, at the Phillips Collection

  • 'I try to give a voice to women who have lived and continue to live in silence through these acts...

    "I try to give a voice to women who have lived and continue to live in silence through these acts of abuse. My intention is that the aesthetic environment I create contributes to raising awareness about women in marginalized communities,"


    Marta Pérez García

  • I inhabit this formless body, which not even paper can name. Memory mutilates it, the mirror destroys it. The gaze attacks it like a gunshot to a wounded animal. I disappear.

    Marta Pérez García

  • About the Artist

    Marta Pérez García has an MFA from Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple University, Philadelphia.


    Her work explores the chaotic aspects of the human condition and through creatures, nature, metaphorical landscapes and women’s bodies, the artist conveys a sense of fragility and strength that permeates in human beings.


    Pérez García prints are made through the woodcarving “reduction” process where she fleshes out a wooden board to give life and density to the figures that will be printed on paper. The worlds she creates in these prints are an explosion of color and repetitive patterns, producing a dance in which “humanimal” forms, objects, limbs, eyes, and teeth create a choreography of continuity and rupture and large images lead to detail observation appreciating miniature elements.


    Lately, Pérez García’s work has focused on gender violence. Trying to create awareness of a serious problem that seems to be ignored, the artist creates multimedia installations involving local organizations, communities and art institutions. These installations and workshops give voice, image and presence to survivors of gender violence who have lived and continue to live in silence.


    Marta Pérez García artworks are in the collections of Museo Arte de Puerto Rico, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico, the Library of Congress, Washington DC, Phillips Collection Washington DC, among others. Since 2010 Pérez García  has been a yearly recipient of artist fellowships from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. She was awarded a Public Art Building Communities Grant in 2018 for I’m Gonna Get You, a large mixed-media installation on gender violence exhibited at the Reeves Center. Recently, Pérez García started to experiment with structural paper making and was awarded the 2021 Vita Paper Arts Residency at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center in Hyattsville, Maryland.


  • Restos-Traces, The Phillips Collection

    March 31, 2022
  • Marta Pérez García, On what Inspired her to Focus on Gender Violence in her Work