Below the surface of Shantell Martin’s signature black and white drawings is an artists’ inquiry into the role of artist and viewer, where a work of art is more than an object of admiration disconnected from its inception. With a meditative process defined by an uninhibited flow, her compositions embody her internal state and the impermanence of the world around her. Exploring themes such as intersectionality, identity and play, Martin is a cultural facilitator, forging new connections between fine art, education, design, philosophy and technology. (Shantell Martin official website)
The artist begins each drawing with an unbroken line, what she calls the “DNA” of the work. Martin has said that “the pen knows where it is going”—she is simply very good at following its direction, almost Ouija-like, in the early stages of any drawing. A sort of improvisational topography ultimately emerges as the artist responds to the voids and spaces that appear.
Martin has developed a striking cast of characters, signs, and symbols with which she fills in space. The artist pairs these reliable forms with written words, building depth and complexity and suffusing the work with “good intentions.” The language and expressions Martin chooses, which often appear as if uttered by the crowd of faces or stick-people inhabiting the composition, ultimately establish an atmosphere intended to encourage us to embrace the task of narrating the work as we see it. (more info)
We here at Nevahblackdown love the simplicity and elegance of the works by Shantell Martin. We see her as a striking and profound inspiration to all women. I believe the younger generation in particular will benefit from her experience and teachings. She takes the minimal to a place of dynamic worthiness. Her power derives from her spirit and delivers it to the world unmasked. Shantell Martin is an artist I love to share with my daughter who is a budding artist herself. The connection is real and I love that! Karen Gibson Roc