Buffalo, NY – Beginning March 11, 2017, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery will host an exhibition for artist Shantell Martin (British, born 1980), titled Shantell Martin: Someday We Can, which will remain on view through June 25, 2017. In May 2017, Martin will also work with the AK Public Art Initiative to create a permanent mural on Buffalo’s East Side. This will mark the first time an artist working with the Public Art Initiative will exhibit simultaneously at the museum.
Using her simple trademark style—black lines on white surfaces—Martin’s illustrations transform everything from walls to found objects, toys, and even participants and passersby.
Supported by a grant from the University at Buffalo’s Creative Arts Initiative (CAI), Martin will work with the AK Public Art Initiative team, UB students, and East Side community representatives to identify the final location for the mural. The core work from UB graduate students will result in a matrix of locations throughout Buffalo’s East Side for future public art activities.
CAI is a university-wide initiative dedicated to the creation and production of new work upholding the highest artistic standards of excellence and fostering a complementary atmosphere of creative investigation and engagement among students, faculty, visiting artists, and the community.
Martin often creates work in front of an audience, and this mural presents the opportunity for people to witness the fabrication of her piece. Martin claims that she does not know what she will draw prior to putting the pen to her chosen surface; she says, rather, “the pen knows where it is going and I just follow.”
Her compositions are at turns whimsical, dramatic, flowing, and compact. Her production is itself a performance of movement and grace, chance and reaction, inspiration and intuition. Martin says that she is often surprised by the final outcome of her large works since the close physical proximity required to make them means that she can not see the total composition until she steps back.
Martin sees the act of drawing as essential to our creative nature. She recognizes and counters the notion that many cultures perpetuate, including our own, that presents artists as rarefied geniuses and creative masters crafting works of precision well beyond common capacity. She disrupts this premise by revealing the simplicity with which she operates, encouraging others to drop their guard and express themselves. Simply stated, Martin is compelled to draw.
On March 13, the artist will conduct a workshop with Visual Arts graduate students at UB, and also will host a public conversation about her work at UB’s Screening Room from 1 to 3 pm. Albright-Knox Curator of Public Art Aaron Ott will conduct a conversation with the artist at the Albright-Knox during the museum’s M&T FIRST FRIDAYS @ THE GALLERY on April 7, 2017. In May 2017, informed by the research conducted by UB Arts Management students, Martin will install her permanent mural in Buffalo.
The Public Art Initiative is an innovative partnership between the Albright-Knox and Erie County established in 2013. The City of Buffalo joined the partnership in 2014. The goal of the Initiative is to create spaces of dialogue where diverse communities have the ability to engage socially, actively respond, and cooperatively produce great public art that is capable of empowering individuals, creating stronger neighborhoods, and establishing Western New York as a critical cultural center.
Other recent Public Art Initiative projects include Daniel Galas’s 72 Jewett mural at 74 Jewett Avenue, Amanda Browder’s Spectral Locus installation at three separate locations throughout Buffalo; Alice Mizrachi’s Dream Keepers mural at the Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology; Roberley Bell’s Locus Amoenus installation at the Tifft Nature Preserve; Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn’s mural Noodle in the Northern Lights at Shea’s 710 Theatre; Kaarina Kaikkonen’s installation We Share a Dream, currently on view at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport; Jenny Kendler’s Milkweed Dispersal Balloons and ReWilding New York (Community Seed Stations), a two-fold work that took place over the summer of 2015; Shayne Dark’s 2015 exhibition Natural Conditions and residency at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens; Jaume Plensa’s Silent Poets, on view through October 2017 at Canalside; Casey Riordan's Shark Girl; Tape Art’s Buffalo Caverns, a massive, temporary mural made with low-adhesive drawing tape on the north wall of the Central Library branch of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library; a billboard- and sticker-based iteration of Matthew Hoffman’s You Are Beautiful project, made possible in part through a partnership with Lamar Advertising; and Charles Clough’s collaboratively produced Hamburg Arena Painting, which is installed in the newly constructed wing of the Hamburg Public Library. The Public Art Initiative has also distributed 30,000 art kits to students throughout Erie County.
The Public Art Initiative is supported by the County of Erie and the City of Buffalo. Funding was provided by the Creative Arts Initiative of the University at Buffalo. The toys in this exhibition were generously donated by Fisher-Price.