Sebastian Martorana is a sculptor working primarily in marble. His sculptures play with the cognitive dissonance between the reclaimed material’s original use in Baltimore’s civic architecture, monuments, tombstones, and statuary and its transformation into surprising, intimate objects like pillows, teddy bears, work gloves, and bath towels. Marble’s legacy as a symbol of oppressive power and inaccessibility is flipped on its head showing that it can indeed be used to depict humor, gentleness, and social equity. Marble itself is heavy, fragile, beautiful, and porous, and people are conditioned to associate marble with death, loss, or tragedy. In Martorana’s skilled hands, the sculptures display a surprising hi-lo dissonance. The artist’s work on funereal monuments and federal buildings has led him to carve more light-hearted objects that raise questions about materials, meaning, and purpose. To make something delicate, soft, or funny is a challenge, one that the artist eagerly embraces.

Martorana is based in Baltimore, Maryland. He earned a BFA in illustration from Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, and an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Rinehart School of Sculpture, Baltimore, Maryland. His work has been exhibited nationally and can be found in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., and numerous private collections.

Work Selection

Alternate Text

Unseen II