Eddie Owens Martin
A comprehensive way to understand Eddie Owens Martin’s many multitudes is through the artist’s concept of Pasaquoyan. This title refers both to a life philosophy and to a physical space for people to experience—a rhythmically colored seven-acre site in Georgia. Martin drew on a myriad of historical inspirations, including his limited knowledge from ancient Mesoamerican, Asian, and early Native North American civilizations. Like all religious prophets, Martin had a divine call that spurred him to do god’s will. An inner voice told him: “You’re gonna be the start of somethin’ new, and you’ll call yourself ‘Saint EOM,’ and you’ll be a Pasaquoyan, the first one in the world.” Developing his own belief system, he professed that pasa means “pass” in Spanish, and that quoyan is a term derived from an unidentified language that, according to St. EOM, meant “bringing the past and the future together.”
Martin’s spiritual belief system was both a personal manifesto and a performative practice, the full breadth of which is reflected in AFAM’s unique collection of his work. The drawings were created pre-Pasaquan in New York, where he supported himself as a sex worker, a fortune teller, and a waiter, absorbed in the art world, and relishing the company of drag queens, drug dealers, and other cultural outsiders who later found their ways into his works. His transitioning identity to St. EOM triggered the creation of a self-styled wardrobe, like often seen among creators of art environments, as a strategy to “dress the message or the messenger” and provide a sense of unity between art and life.