Martin Ramirez


Born 1895 in Jalisco – MEXICO. Died 1963 in Auburn – USA.

Ramirez immigrated to the United States at the age of thirty years in search of a job, so that he could ensure the survival of his family and pay for the land he just bought. He left behind his wife expecting a son and animals he loved : his horse and two deer.
In northern California, he worked in the mines and for a railway construction company. For five years he regularly sent money to his family. Meanwhile, civil war broke out in the region of Jalisco : his property was destroyed and Ramirez lost all his animals. Apparently, he misinterpreted a letter from his brother and convinced himself that his wife had chosen to fight alongside the federal army, which made him decide not to return to Mexico. We do not know how Ramirez survived during the Depression, however, in 1931 he was arrested by the police and committed to Stockton State Hospital. He escaped several times from the hospital, but came back each time. In 1948, suffering from tuberculosis, he was transferred to DeWitt State Hospital in Auburn. Ramirez probably started drawing in 1935. But it was not until 1948, after having been discovered by the artist and professor of psychology Tarmo Pasto that his production was preserved as a work of art.
Ramirez draws on pieces of recovered paper, glued together with a paste made of saliva and oatmeal. His tools are limited to a few pencils, a spatula which he uses to flatten the paper and matches to spread a paste created with colored pencils, charcoal, fruit juices, shoe polish, saliva and his own sputum sometimes, all mixed in small pots made from oat flakes and dried on radiators.

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