Sven Martson brings traveling to life through art


Dylan Haviland – Arts & Entertainment Editor

Photographer Sven Martson’s black and white film print of  a “Young Girl,” taken in Oaxaca City, Mexico stands 30” by 22.”  The photograph, taken amongst a crowd of people in a jewelry store, highlights the child’s innocence and beauty, one shot that captures the tenderness of a human being.

Sven’s photographic exhibit at Kehler Liddell Gallery, New Haven, called “Mexicans” captures his years of traveling in Mexico through the lens of a camera. Shooting images of everyday life, his photographs capture a decade’s worth of daily life and wonder.  The exhibit will run from Sept. 10 to Oct. 11.

First inspired by his wife to visit Mexico, Martson mentioned that his fascination with the country brought him back for many years.

I found a very mysterious place [Mexico], it’s just the south of our border I don’t know how many thousands or hundreds of miles we share but it’s so completely different in so many ways,” said Martson.  “I mean the whole attitude is different, to life and to death. How they see things and how they live life, how they celebrate their existence is quite different from what we do here.”

The 26 photos installed in the gallery offer a wide range of views into the lives of people in Mexico.  Martson’s travels from the city of Oaxaca to Morelia range from shots of couples eating ice cream and palm trees bellowing in the wind, to guard dogs posted on rooftops.

Many of Sven’s photographs come from his walks on the streets, describing how he reacts to the environment and shoots with his camera people or objects that capture his eye.

“I kind of just walk around, and see what I see,” said Martson.

In his photographs, he looks for a human element along with composition, humor and social commentary.

One particular image, “Strollers” taken in Oaxaca is a combination of composition and the human element that Martson expresses in his works.  The photograph displays two shoe shiners working against washed out wall on the streets, in-between them a man and child walk perfectly in the middle.

“When I saw that wall and I saw shoeshine that looks a little symmetrical and I thought something needs to happen here, it’s not enough right now so I just waited,” said Martson.  “About five minutes later these two walk by so it completed the [photograph] for me.”

Martson hopes that his work will show the beauty of Mexico and its people.

“It’s an older culture, you know Mexico is a western country but only barely, and it’s not a third world country, that’s not fair to say that,” said Martson.  “It’s actually a rather well-developed country but cultural attitudes are such that it seems like western civilization is only kind of a veneer over something much older and much deeper.”

Photo Credit: Dylan Haviland – Arts & Entertainment Editor

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