Maria Martinez Cañas was born in Havana, Cuba, and because of the revolution her family moved to Puerto Rico when she was an infant. She attended college in the United States, and received a BFA from the Philadelphia College of Art in 1982 and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1984. Subsequently, she moved to Miami where she lives and works in the Little Havana section.
Maria Martinez-Cañas tests the limits of photography, using nearly every form of the medium—from analog to digital, color to black-and-white, camera-less to camera-based—to create photographs, collages, videos, and mixed-media installations through which she explores the mutability of identity and perception. As she explains, her own background shapes her vision and work: “Because I consider myself to be a Cuban-born, Puerto Rican-grown American citizen, […] the three cultures have had a different way of making me realize how I react to my environment, to the way that I look at the world.” Blurred, fragmented, collaged, and layered, the images in Martinez-Cañas’s works are ambiguous; the plants, people, urban and domestic scenes, and microorganisms of her compositions are altered by photography into symbols of perception, filtering the world, as the camera filters images, through ourselves.