Putting complete trust in her KRINK Shantell Martin’s signature black and white drawings have adorned planes, people, shoes, circuit boards – you name it.
From introspection to identity, Shantell’s art illuminates the lines between Who Are You to Are You You. Shantell’s new masterpiece Line of Mars has taken over New York Times Square.
Renowned for her ebb and flow style, Shantell’s collaborations include Kendrick Lamar, Lizzo, PUMA, Google, The Boston Ballet, Denver Art Museum and now Absolut Art for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
With a new canvas in her sights (Sydney Opera House) Ascension catches up with the visual artist and LGBTQ+ activist during her Australian launch.
Absolut Art bridges the divide between the art world and local artists, helping to democratise the art buying process. Why did you partner with Absolute Art? Did you experience any challenges as an artist?
I’ve been aware of the amazing things that Absolut Art has been doing and how they’ve really worked to create accessibility for artists, so I was extremely excited to collaborate with them.
Your art invites us into a realm of self-reflection. What questions does Shantell Martin ask herself?
Who Are You? Are You Being True? Always. I really believe that consistently checking in with oneself is like a compass that everyone, not just myself, has access to.
Have there been points of evolution within your art? And how would you describe it?
I feel like my work is still evolving as I evolve as a person and an artist in tandem.
You’re teaming up with Brooke Andrew, Sydney Biennale, artistic director to have a yarn? Have you ever collaborated with a First Nations Australian artist? If not, would you be open to it, and why?
I have not, and I’m absolutely thrilled. I feel like it’s so important that the voices and stories and perspectives of people who are or have been silenced is how we achieve legitimate change and progress.
I watched your Vlog series. In the episode ‘Come, What May’ Chapter 2: Art School, you hit a dark time? Has it ever resurfaced, and how do you manage it or lulls in artistic inspiration?
I would be lying if I told you no! I’m just like anyone else, and we all go through periods that are sometimes more challenging or negative and usually those lead to very positive growth if you can switch your perspective about it.
I also look at times when I don’t feel as creatively inspired as moments to explore other things in the world that I love or have not given enough attention to. I also feel like those are times to really take care of yourself to rest. Rest is so important!
You’ve stated, “As a queer, woman of colour, and artist, I feel a deep responsibility to use my craft and my voice to connect, celebrate and honour my community.” Can you explain why?
Because the reality is we have been silenced, disregarded, devalued and ignored and for many, there is still that belief that we don’t have a right to be seen, heard and to succeed and that’s the furthest thing from the truth.
Where to from here? Are there any new projects or dream collaborations on the horizon?
My first art book, Lines, is coming out later this month which I’m so excited about. It’s a collaboration with Heni Publishing and features an essay by Katharine Stout the Deputy Director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London and an interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist, the Artistic Director of the Serpentine Galleries in London. There’s also a special limited edition of 200 copies, each with original work on the back and the cover that I created… so the books have also become a form of original art themselves, which I’m really proud of.
As far as dream collaborations, I would love to do something here in Sydney, the first time I saw the Opera House; I thought it would be the perfect canvas.
What are you reading, listening to or watching?
I’m watching Sex Education which is brilliant and listening to The Daily from the NY Times is a part of my morning ritual.
SHANTELL MARTIN’S UPCOMING EVENTS IN SYDNEY
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2020 6.30PM / 107 Project, 107 Redfern St, Redfern Shantell Martin in conversation with Sydney Biennale artistic director Brook Andrew.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 27 – THURSDAY, MARCH 5, 2020 / MCM House, 16-20 Oxford St, Paddington, Sydney. VIP Opening Reception: Thursday, February 27, 6-8PM. A pop-up exhibition displaying Shantell Martin exclusive prints.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2020 7PM / Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, 1 Notts Ave, Bondi. A live light illustration session by Shantell Martin and performance alongside Milan Ring at the iconic Bondi venue with panoramic ocean- front views.
Feature image credit: Manolo Campion.