How does Martin select her subjects?
The lives and identities of Black people, especially women, are central to Delita Martin’s work. Sometimes she knows the sitters for her portraits well, but other times they are virtual strangers: people she meets in the grocery store or on the street. Martin’s main criterion in selecting a subject is simple: she has to feel a connection with them.
That sense of connection can transcend the canvas. After seeing an exhibition of her work one evening, an older Black woman approached the artist with tears in her eyes. As Martin recalls, she said, “‘You have shown us in all of our beauty. Our full lips, our full noses, our skin, our hair.’ That was the best compliment I’ve ever gotten in my entire life; a foremother for me said, you have done well.”