Artist Shantell Martin Draws Crowd

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International artist shows her stuff as Clark’s artist-in-residence

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Shantell Martin

Student musicians play improvisational jazz while Shantell Martin makes digital paintings.

Visual artist Shantell Martin’s free-form drawings and live-animation performances have been featured in such vaunted venues as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the New York Times Building, the enormous screens at Shibuya and Harajuku crossings in Tokyo—and, for more than a week, at Clark College.

Martin visited Clark as part of the college’s Artist Residency program, which features an artist-in-­residence once a year as part of the larger Clark Art Talks program. She may be the most prominent artist yet to participate in the residency.

“We read about her in the New York Times and contacted her, even though we didn’t think she would do an artist’s residency at Clark College,” said Art Professor Carson Legree. “Her visit was amazing.”

During her stay from April 26 to May 7, Martin visited numerous classes including Drawing, 2-D Design, 3-D Design, Graphic Design Exploration, Watercolor, Photography, Ceramics and Creativity and Concept.

She also gave a slideshow lecture as part of the Clark Art Talks series and provided digital animation during a performance with three Clark jazz students in Archer Gallery. She created large-scale drawings that hung in the lobby of Foster Arts Center during much of her stay.

“Her classroom visits were filled with personal autobiography and a celebration of individuality,” said Art Professor Senseny Stokes. “She worked with hundreds of our students, who were inspired by her work and personal history—and charmed by her approachable, laid-back manner.”

Martin, who has said in interviews that much of her artistic perspective is informed by growing up as the only interracial child with her white family in London, has made a name for herself with her playful line drawings that reflect a celebration of independence. She also frequently provides live animation or light shows to accompany music in settings ranging from museums to the mega-clubs of Japan and Russia.

She has been featured on CNN, Jimmy Kimmel Live and the television show Gossip Girl. Martin has collaborated with celebrity photographers and brands alike; her notable work includes a project with celebrity photographer Nigel Barker, where she created digital sets for a 10-page Tatler Asia editorial with supermodel Christina Garcia. In February 2012, she was one of four artists commissioned by Nike iD to make a piece of work and a limited-edition shoe to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Nike Cortez.

“We didn’t think there was much of a chance that an artist with this much commercial success or international acclaim would do a residency here at Clark College, but we were honored and thrilled when she accepted our invitation,” said Stokes, who called Martin’s collaboration with the jazz students “one of the coolest things that ever happened at Clark College.”

Shantell Martin

Martin (second from right) with her collaborators, jazz students James Powers, David Floratos, and Max Wike.

“I’ve had a really nice time coming in every day, just drawing and coming into classes, meeting students and teachers,” said Martin in a video interview. “It’s kind of nice to come in and do the drawing and the stuff that I’m comfortable with, but also have the chance to experiment alongside young students here.”

Clark Art Talks is a sponsored program of the Associated Students of Clark College (ASCC) that includes an evening lecture series, classroom workshops, and the annual artist residency. Organized by the Art department, it is now completing its fourth year at the college and its second year as an official ASCC program.


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