NEW/NOW: Shantell Martin

Among the most innovative young artists working today, Shantell Martin (b. 1980) is known for her exploration into the vast potential of the drawn line. Using an ink marker, she creates improvisational compositions with meandering lines and a recurring cast of characters, symbols, and messages that reflect a deeply rooted interest in identity—her own and also the viewer’s—as well as intersectionality, play, society, and culture. Martin’s signature black-and-white works reveal her personal mantra to “Draw on everything,” and comprise small personal sketches, monumental murals, live-drawing performances, and collaborations with high-fashion brands, engineers, and pop stars.

As part of the New Britain Museum of American Art’s NEW/NOW series featuring emerging and established contemporary artists, this exhibition represents Martin’s first career retrospective. Representing nearly two decades of work created in London, Japan, New York, and across the United States, the show explores the evolution of Martin’s artistic style and technique while highlighting key aspects of her output, including art, performance, commerce, and technology, and their myriad cross-sections. Her large-scale site-specific mural entitled Transparency, 2020 was created on the occasion of her exhibition at the NBMAA, and reflects the artist’s response to both the space and time in which it was made.