Martynka Wawrzyniak

  • Martynka Wawrzyniak

  • I met Martynka, many life times ago, when she was still an art director/photographer and I was a newbie stylist coming to show her my book. I think we ended up working together on something but it wasn’t until we were on a four day shoot and were forced to share a double bed in one of the most romantic spots in Jamaica, that we reeeeaallly got to know each other!! (No no not like that!)   Martynka is one of the few people I know who is as comfortable walking around naked as she is fully clothed! And rightly so, her body is perfect!!  It is her temple and her canvas.  So careful is she as to what nourishes her she goes as far as crushing almonds in the morning to make her own almond milk. There is not an ounce of fat clinging to her hips, not one wrinkle that dares to dirty dance across her face and to top it all off, she has the boobs of a 16 year old!
    Jamaica was over 10 years ago now and while Martynka hasn’t physically changed one bit, her career took a right turn and she is now a respected artist.  I’m not going to tell you too much about her most recent project, ‘Smell me’, as she does so beautifully in the following interview, but I will say that it is one of the most genius ideas and so totally 100% Martynka. Her body is, of course, her subject but you really won’t believe what she did with it!  It’s brilliant!  Next month she has another exhibition opening in New York, entitled ‘Feed’.  Again it touches on her body, but this time also brings in her other obsession, food.

  • In between these lengthy projects Martynka also finds time to work as a freelance editor at Rizolli, most recently completing a beautiful coffee table book by Purple magazine owner Olivier Zahm. It was a very time consuming project, but that’s how she likes it. She likes to stay busy, idle time is really not part of her vocabulary…and so about 18 months ago, when she had a spare three hours on a Saturday, she rang me up and asked if I would like to collab with her on a project for the lingerie label Araks, the brief calling for us to photograph each other in their lingerie.  If you don’t know this label then you won’t know that they cater to people with small perfect boobs that require just a whisper of pretty chiffon to cover them. On any normal day I have big boobs that need a little more help than that, but this wasn’t any normal day, this was hello I’m two months pregnant kinda boob day and lemme tell you they made water melons look small! Mothers would do to hide their children’s eyes from how I looked in those bra’s!  Martynka, on the other hand looked as if she was the fit model for Araks and I had a very easy time shooting her in their bra an panties.  I cannot say the same for her shooting me. Luckily the shoot never saw the light of day, but to this day I don’t know why I said yes to this, perhaps I was desperate to prove to her how I too was totally cool flouncing around partially naked even if I did look like a beached whale!


  • Martynka is the poster child for how to both, live an organic lifestyle in the heart of toxic Manhattan while at the same time carving out a niche for herself in the cutthroat world of art. Savvy enough to know how to play the game she also possess’s a self awareness that allows her to follows her instinct, creating works of art more true to who she is than most artists know how.  And the art world is beginning to sit up and take notice, with collectors lining up to buy and galleries all over the world exhibiting her work. Early to bed and early to rise this almond crushing Polish feather weight is gonna have to add another smell to her collection,  the smell of sweet success…

  • Who is Martynka Wawrzyniak?
    I am a Polish girl who had a 10 year stop over in New Zealand and have called NYC home for 16 years. I am an obsessive compulsive perfectionist, a workaholic, a vegetable fetishist, an information addict – non fiction books are my favorite bedtime reading and I listen to NPR/ WNYC in the shower and in the kitchen while preparing dinner. My mind and body need to be constantly occupied, I have a very hard time doing nothing. I need to learn how to chill…


    What did you want to be when you grew up?
    I grew up in a bohemian family surrounded by eccentric artist types and I always knew that I wanted to do something creative. I read “Slaves of New York” by Tama Janovitz as an adolescent and decided it was my destiny to live in New York. At first I wanted to be a photographer, but after I got into it I soon found the medium limiting so I stepped into my work as the subject and medium.


  • How did you get to be where you are?
    Hard work and perseverance. Optimism and a belief in everything working out despite the hurdles along the way. Meeting lots of inspiring individuals who helped guide me along the way.


    If you could go back in time and give your 16 year old self some advice what would it be ?Be nicer to your mother even if she drives you crazy. This advice is still relevant today.


    If the cupboard in your bedroom would lead you to another world what would your Narnia look like?
    Oh, I loved the Narnia books growing up! But it was a bit of a dark scary place.… I would want to step into nature, into a world that was a combination of all of my favorite places: The Polish mountain village Kalnica where I grew up as a child, Paekakariki beach in New Zealand, Harbin Hot Springs in northern CA and of course the salt water pool in Kripplebush upstate NY!


  • By day you are …. by night you are….?
    I never really stop, it all blurs together. By day I am an artist and a freelance book editor at Rizzoli…. by night I am on my second shift of the same thing with a little break to make dinner in between – cooking is my biggest pleasure and one of my only escapes.


    What was one of your favorite past projects?
    Working on the Smell Me project was a pretty amazing experience, I learned so much! I spent two years extracting the essence of my sweat, hair and tears with a team of research students at Hunter college. I enrolled as a chemistry student to do this. Later I worked with a scent director and perfumer on recreating a synthetic version of these organic essences for diffusion in the scent chamber installation so I got to learn about how a fragrance is made. The most recent reiteration of the Smell Me  project was Eau de M – a fragrance advertisements with a scent strip of my sweat essence which ran as a double sided insert in the entire print run of the May issue of  Harpers Bazaar. It still baffles me when I try to comprehend that my sweat essence was in 950,000 magazines! What made it even crazier is that I got a slew of emails from people across the county asking where to buy this perfume!


  • What are you working on now and what do you dream of happening in the future?
    I am busy preparing for my upcoming exhibition FEED which opens September 7th at envoy enterprises in NYC. The show will feature work from a project in which I spent a year collecting my soiled food napkins. 365 identical, stained 20×20 inch cloth dinner napkins will be sewn together in chronological order into an interlocking two-spiral, walk-in structure. I am also making a book in which a photograph of each of the soiled napkins is accompanied by a detailed list of ingredients. Additionally I will show 12 framed calendar formations made out of 365 stained 6×6 inch paper napkins which I used to dab my mouth after my daily morning green juice. Lastly there will be two sculptures made out of confectionary – a casting of the negative space of the inside of my mouth out of edible golden candy and the negative of the hollow of my abdomen cast out of white gum paste – which is the stuff they make wedding cake flower decorations out of. I am really exited to show this new work.

    As far as my dreams for the future:  I would like to try and launch a limited edition commercial perfume based on my tears essence.


    What song do you love that you keep secret cause its too embarrassing to say publicly you like it?
    I am sure I like a lot of dorky songs, but don’t really know which ones other people would consider too embarrassing to admit to…


  • Which version of “Say It Right “do you prefer Angus and Julia Stone or Nelly Furtados?
    No question Angus and Julia Stone I couldn’t even get through the other one!


    Are you a morning person or night person?
    Definitely morning,  I am up with the birds at 6am. I have to be in bed before midnight or I turn into a pumpkin!


    Any advice for peeps just starting out?
    Figure out what you want to do and start working towards it. Make a plan and step by step you will get there. Don’t give up. Believe in yourself and don’t let other people’s judgement affect you.  Seek out mentors. Get an internship and learn on the go –  in a lot of ways it is more valuable than a formal education.

  • Is there a quote or mantra you live by?
    Believe in your dreams and they will come true, it really is like magic!