Shantell Martin on the Future of Art

Artist Shantell Martin photography courtesy of Matt Doyle
Artist Shantell Martin photography courtesy of Matt Doyle

Multidisciplinary, multimedia artist Shantell Martin debuted last May 7 to June 4, 2022 a site-specific installation with Subliminal Projects, a multi-use gallery focused on artistic exploration created by Detroit mural artist Shepard Fairey and skateboarder, Blaze Blouin based on a 27-point manifesto by Martin that explores the future of the art industry. 

Photo courtesy of Connie Tsang

Martin’s manifesto is “a hope, a wish, and an encouragement for everyone to look deeper into how they support artists, protect artists, empower artists, and value their art and the artists who dedicate their lives to their craft.” Known for her ongoing use of her signature, Martin’s spontaneous hand-drawn lines which explores the reciprocal relationship between artist and viewer created this work of art to share objects of admiration.

As a cultural facilitator who forges new connections between fine art, education, design, philosophy, and technology, her work has been featured at institutions such as Albright-Knox in Buffalo, New York, the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts in Brooklyn and MoMa in New York.

The artist also has an upcoming immersive music and fireside chat event at Fotografiska, New York on July 19, 2022. The event is in partnership with Jasmin Hernandez, founder and editor-in-chief of Gallery Gurls, a digital platform highlighting Black and person-of-color changemakers in contemporary art.

BLAC sat down with Martin to learn more about her installations, and her vision.

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BLAC: What inspired you to title your series “THE FUTURE”? How does this title play into your goal of promoting diverse inclusion in the arts? 

Martin: I’ve been thinking for a very long time about a manifesto for what the future of art would look like, and this show gave me the opportunity to write that manifesto and create works inspired by its principles. This led to the show’s title, “THE FUTURE,” and an ongoing series of works. Part of the messaging of my work is accessibility, inclusion, and asking questions. 

BLAC: How have you prepared for the Subliminal Projects show? 

Martin: Initially, preparation has been a lot of thinking, reading, reflecting, and drawing on paper, canvases, and objects. A couple of the pieces in the show are whole cloth quilts, so I spent some time researching and looking into this. I don’t think there’s a typical day in my life. I’m emailing, on the phone, drawing, eating lunch, possibly working out, and taking many meetings, but it’s never the same. My partner, Laksmi Hedemark, helped me with some of the copy for the manifesto, and the gallery, Subliminal, has also been a great partner in helping bring this show together.

BLAC: What do you hope for audience members to feel and think after they view your work? What shift in dialogue do you hope your work will bring to community members? 

Stantell Martin in Brooklyn Museum by Roy Rochlin

Martin: My work is very bold, playful, and open on the surface. That helps draw people into the more significant existential questions, ponderings, and motivations in the work. I want them to feel inspired. I want the work to permit them to want to create themselves.

BLAC: Your work deals with the question “What and who is art for?”. In your opinion, what and who is art for?

Artists’ Shantell Martin work inside the May Room, Governors Island by Timothy Schenck

Martin: I do believe art is for the people. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we should all be artists, but there are benefits to us all utilizing the activities that we are so naturally drawn to as children. However, we build our society with giant facades around art to justify things like the art market and the value of work, but I believe if we were all creating art, the world would be a much better place.

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