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Shantell Martin in front of her mural in the Albright-Knox's Sculpture Court

Shantell Martin in front of her mural in the Albright-Knox's Sculpture Court. Photograph by Connie Tsang.

Exhibition Spotlight—Shantell Martin: Someday We Can

April 3, 2017

Shantell Martin’s mantra is “Draw on Everything,” which she does with aplomb. Her signature line has found its way onto everything from paper and walls to white-painted everyday objects and childhood toys.

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.

Shantell Martin beginning a mural in the Albright-Knox’s Sculpture Court.

Shantell Martin beginning a mural in the Albright-Knox’s Sculpture Court. Photograph by Connie Tsang.

Shantell Martin working on her exhibition in the Albright-Knox’s Sculpture Court.

Shantell Martin working on her exhibition in the Albright-Knox’s Sculpture Court. Photograph by Connie Tsang.

Shantell Martin working on a mural in the Albright-Knox’s Sculpture Court.

Shantell Martin working on a mural in the Albright-Knox’s Sculpture Court. Photograph by Connie Tsang.

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.

Shantell Martin working on a mural in the Albright-Knox’s Sculpture Court.

Shantell Martin working on a mural in the Albright-Knox’s Sculpture Court. Photograph by Connie Tsang.

Detail of Shantell Martin's mural in the Albright-Knox’s Sculpture Court.

Detail of Shantell Martin's mural in the Albright-Knox’s Sculpture Court. Photograph by Connie Tsang.

Installation view of Shantell Martin: Someday We Can

Installation view of Shantell Martin: Someday We Can. Photograph by Connie Tsang.

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