Hughes received a BFA in Studio Art from the University of Texas at Austin in 1973. Her work has been included in numerous solo and group shows across the USA including exhibitions in New York, Texas, New Orleans, New Mexico and Colorado. Hughes works in a variety of mediums including painting, drawing, photography, and computer-based media. The artist has resided in Marfa, Texas, since 2004 where she owns Works on Paper Gallery. Her work is in numerous collections throughout the country including the Lannan Foundation, Santa Fe and the St George Hotel, Marfa.
The various series of works by Martha Hughes (Scenes, Timelapse, and Marks) may at first seem unrelated, but are in fact all grounded by the artist’s interest in color, place, stasis/movement, and time.
Her Scenes series simultaneously explores the disorientation of being human in a manufactured world and the potential of that world. These paintings portray everyday, prosaic interiors and landscapes: static views inspired by glossy magazine spreads with carefully staged photographs. Images of impossibly pristine, impeccably beautiful houses, gardens, and pools. Hughes has stripped these down to their barest colors, distorting angles and proportions, to fabricate the momentary uneasiness one can unexpectedly feel in familiar spaces. Her goal is to mirror the times in our lives when we are caught off guard by places and situations of our own making.
Works in the Timelapse series stem from the artist’s interest in animation and the way things change over time. Hughes photographs the same domestic scene over a period of days, months, or years; then creates paintings based on the photographs.
Similarly, the Marks series comprises works composed of repetitive marks in a limited grid, typically based on centimeter sized units. As in animated film, small changes from frame-to-frame – or across the paper – create motion.