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Shantell Martin

Shantell Martin

Shantell Martin’s black-and-white, improvised line drawings unfurl like streams of consciousness across varied media, from large-scale murals to digital art and designer collaborations. Often performed live, the British-born visual artist, curator, and teacher has described her work, “I draw. I draw on everything.” Challenging and uplifting the viewer with her bold combinations of word and image, her drawings often address identity and self-discovery, informed by her perspective as a black, queer artist: “I'm always like an outsider on the inside.”

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NEWS

Shantell Martin: Transforming Spaces with Line Drawings at Vardan Gallery, LA

Shantell Martin: Transforming Spaces with Line Drawings at Vardan Gallery, LA

07 Mar, 2024 @ 15:49

Her latest exhibition at Vardan Gallery in Los Angeles, running until April 17, encapsulates her innovative approach to art as she delves into the history and potential of each surface she encounters.

Latest News in Black Art: Photographer Roland Freeman Died, Nigeria Named New Culture Minister, A’Driane Nieves Joined Various Small Fires, Arem Duplessis Won National Design Award & More

Latest News in Black Art: Photographer Roland Freeman Died, Nigeria Named New Culture Minister, A’Driane Nieves Joined Various Small Fires, Arem Duplessis Won National Design Award & More

Culture Type · 26 Aug, 2023 @ 03:38

Roland Freeman died, artist A’Driane Nieves joined Various Small Fires, Black-owned gallery opened in Durham, N.C., Shantell Martin designs UNO cards & more

Commemorating King Charles III's coronation: nine artists commissioned by UK government to create works

Commemorating King Charles III's coronation: nine artists commissioned by UK government to create works

The Art Newspaper · 15 May, 2023 @ 11:02

The UK Government Art Collection (GAC) has commissioned nine UK-based artists, including Cornelia Parker and Hew Locke, to create works in response to the recent Coronation of King Charles III.

 

About the Artist

Shantell Martin’s black-and-white, improvised line drawings unfurl like streams of consciousness across varied media, from large-scale murals to digital art and designer collaborations. Often performed live, the British-born visual artist, curator, and teacher has described her work, “I draw. I draw on everything.” Challenging and uplifting the viewer with her bold combinations of word and image, her drawings often address identity and self-discovery, informed by her perspective as a black, queer artist: “I'm always like an outsider on the inside.”

Born in 1980, she grew up in South East London, where she was raised by a single mother and stepdad on a low-income housing project. The only half-Nigerian child in a white household, she was acutely aware of her difference, facing racism on the streets of London. Seeking freedom in art, she began to draw and write. For Martin, her drawing is a form of self-expression, rooted in part in this experience:

“I have learned to embrace my multivalent perspectives and double consciousness and to see strength and exalt in my personal and cultural in-betweenness… My preference of working in black and white is an apt metaphor of my own existence.”

Continuing to develop her signature line, she studied at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London from 2000 to 2003. After graduating, she moved to Tokyo in 2003. There, she gained recognition for her live drawing performances in clubs and art spaces, before moved to New York in 2009. Leaving behind a strong fanbase in Tokyo, she set about to re-establish herself, eventually gaining widespread recognition when her illustrated bedroom was featured in the New York Times in 2012.

Martin has since embarked on many, varied projects, from drawing murals across New York, to premiering her first choreographed ballet, KITES, at the Boston Ballet in 2022. She has also expanded her art through collaborated with commercial brands, from Tiffany and Co. to Puma, and with musicians, including Kendrick Lamar and Kelly Wearstler.

Martin's work can be found in museums, galleries and installation across the world. Her 2020 retrospective NEW/NOW, at the New Britain Museum of American Art in Connecticut, was the most extensive exhibition of her work to date, covering over 20 years of her career. She has received numerous awards, including the Central Saint Martin's/UAL Honorary Award, the highest award that the institution grants, in 2023. Also a teacher, since 2013 Martin has been an adjunct professor at NYU Tisch ITP, a visiting scholar at MIT Media Lab, and a Fellow at Columbia University’s Brown Institute for Media Innovation. 

Working between New York and Los Angeles, she continues to consistently expand her practice. Her art escapes the gallery, resonating with a wide audience. For Martin,

“I’ve let my lines become much like a language, a language that has unfolded much like life. And when there has been silence, I’ve sought connection through conversation, asking questions that push through the discomfort.”

Interested in Shantell Martin?