Armed with her signature black marker, artist Shantell Martin continues to manifest her power of the pen.
"Art is a conversation. Art is expression. Art is a connection. Art is listening,” offers artist Shantell Martin. The Brit-born, New York-based virtuoso has crafted powerful visual narratives by transforming spaces ranging from New York City Ballet’s Lincoln Center to most recently Seaside Playground in Rockaway Park in Queens. “I hope it makes them smile. I hope that it makes them think. I hope that it makes them want to connect with their own mind and heart and that it helps them on their own personal paths,” she says of sharing her work. “You may not always agree, but the act of taking in the point of view of others and putting yourself in another’s shoes with the intention of gaining understanding and empathy, that is how real change and lasting evolution will be created,” she offers.
Martin’s monograph released this year, Shantell Martin: Lines (HENI Publishing), explores her process, which blends stream-of-consciousness drawings with powerful messages. “I do believe that art not only captures the past; it also heals the wrongs of the past in a way while forging new paths forward,” she says.
In her remarkable TED Talk, Martin explores how drawing can set you free. “With my TED Talk, I really had set out to explore creativity and the role art has played in my own life, and through the process of working on my talk, I realized that drawing had actually had a much greater impact on me, but not how I originally had thought. I really came to the understanding that drawing has truly become an act of liberation, in that it has connected me to my environment, my community, myself, but most importantly to other people. It has taught me to see others. And the ability to truly open my eyes and take others in... that is freedom.”
As for her next canvas? Martin has her sights on creating giant-scale drawings on everything from the exterior of the Guggenheim or the Sydney Opera House to “giant drawings in the sky” crafted from kites or perhaps even an animation or comic book about a drawing hero. We can’t wait to see what she lines up next.
Photography by: Courtesy of Shantell Martin and Vitra