Photography has a very good friend in Maria Martínez-Cañas, whose retrospective at Fort Lauderdale's Museum of Art last year was her first one-woman show at a South Florida museum. The Cuban-born, Puerto Rican-reared, Miami-based artist in a very real sense reinvents photography, transforming it into a hybrid medium better suited to her needs. She's smart to steer clear of digitally manipulated photography, which is still new enough to come across, in most hands, as gimmicky and contrived, but she also eschews what we usually think of as photography: no portraits, no still lifes, no landscapes, at least not in any ordinary sense. Instead, Martínez-Cañas incorporates drawing and collage into her photographs, manipulating the imagery in her own ways to make it extraordinarily expressive -- she snips photographs into fragments that she then uses as compositional elements, or she takes them apart and reassembles them in unexpected ways. At a time when the medium is just over a century old and still coming to terms with its long-fought-for status as an art form, Martínez-Cañas takes that status for granted and runs with it.

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