Sebastian Martorana (American, b. 1981) creates masterful sculptural vignettes of public and private life out of the timeless medium of marble. Carving highly realistic yet unlikely textures such as those of an old mattress, a teddy bear, or the pages of a book out of stone, Martorana comments on sociopolitical realities and the human condition in his work. The stoic, classical appearance of marble connects his subjects to a social and artistic legacy that has been more hegemonic than welcoming for millennia, and Martorana wittily questions this through his focus on intimate subjects: Kermit the Frog’s unwavering eye contact with the viewer is a playful reflection on childish attachment, while a plush sheep evokes the human need for comfort. In his contrasting works depicting objects pertaining to public life, such as marble benches that will activate the Museum’s courtyard during the exhibition, Martorana explores the power and possibilities of community.
Martorana received his BFA in illustration from Syracuse University, where he also studied sculpture, including a semester in Italy. After graduating he became a full-time apprentice in a stone shop outside Washington, D.C. He received his MFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Rinehart School of Sculpture. Martorana is currently an adjunct professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Martorana’s works have received numerous awards and are included in various private and public collections. His sculpture Impressions was featured in the exhibition “40 Under 40: Craft Futures,” at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The sculpture was acquired by the museum and is now part of their permanent collection.