During her early years in New York, Martin settled in a bustling, dilapidated labyrinth of studios known as Coenties Slip
, where she lived alongside Jasper Johns and Ellsworth Kelly. But she soon realized the highly social, chaotic environment wasn’t conducive to her practice—and before long, she relocated to a serene studio in the New Mexican desert.
“A studio is not a place in which to talk to friends. You will hate your friends if they destroy the atmosphere of your studio,” she later wrote in a handwritten note
. “It is almost hopeless to expect clarity of mind. It is hopeless if your studio atmosphere cannot be preserved.”
So, Martin allowed few visitors into her studio. “The best things in life happen to you when you’re alone,” she explained to Smith and Kuwayama. Decades earlier, she’d said to Gruen: “If you live by perception, as all artists must, then you sometimes have to wait a long time for your mind to tell you the next step to take.…When you’re with other people, your mind isn’t your own.”
Tidiness and organization were also paramount for Martin, reflecting her commitment to and respect for the work. “You must clean and arrange your studio in a way that will forward a quiet state of mind,” she explained. “This cautious care of atmosphere is really needed to show respect for the work.”