Campus News

Artist to create permanent mural on Buffalo’s East Side as part of CAI residency

Shantell Martin, on a scissor-lift, creating a mural.

Shantell Martin works on a special event in Toronto, in collaboration with Saks Fifth Avenue, that would immerse invited guests in a black-and-white world of hands-on interactive art. The 2015 event celebrated the arrival of Saks to Canada.


Published March 6, 2017

Shantell Martin.
“The pen knows where it is going and I just follow.”
Shantell Martin, artist-in-residence
Creative Arts Initiative

Internationally celebrated visual artist, performer and storyteller Shantell Martin will be in residence at UB March 11 to June 25 as part of the university’s Creative Arts Initiative (CAI), offering a multifaceted program that will include the opening of her first solo museum exhibition, titled “Someday We Can,” at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

Martin’s residency, provided in cooperation with the Albright-Knox, also will involve free public talks and creation of a permanent outdoor mural on Buffalo’s East Side in connection with the gallery’s Public Art Initiative.

Exhibiting Martin’s works in the museum while simultaneously executing a permanent outdoor mural is intended to make a public statement that beautiful and inspiring creative work belongs to communities and should be presented in neighborhoods.

Martin’s work is described as a “meditation of lines; a language of characters, creatures and messages that invite viewers to share a role in her creative process.” She is a former visiting scholar at MIT Media Lab and an adjunct professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Her residency schedule:

  • March 13: Meet the artist, 1-3 p.m., Center for the Arts Screening Room. A discussion of her work and creative process.

Martin says she never knows what she will draw prior to putting the pen to her chosen surface. “The pen knows where it is going and I just follow,” she says. Martin sees the act of drawing as essential to our creative nature. She recognizes the notion that many cultures, including our own, perpetuate a myth that presents artists as rarified geniuses and creative masters crafting works of precision well beyond common capacity, but counters this claim by openly revealing the simplicity with which she operates, encouraging others to drop their guard and express themselves. The event is free and open to the public.

  • April 7: Martin will be in conversation with Aaron Ott, Albright-Knox curator of public art, from 7:30-8:30 p.m. in the Albright-Knox Auditorium.

This free and public event is part of M&T Bank’s First Fridays. Admission to Martin’s exhibition will also be free on this day.

  • June 4-8: Martin will produce her permanent public mural.

Martin often creates work in front of an audience. The mural project offers the chance to watch the fabrication of Martin’s piece. Her production is a performance of movement and grace, chance and reaction, inspiration and intuition. “I’m often surprised by the final outcome of my large works since the physical proximity required to make them means that I cannot see the total composition until stepping back from the work,” she says.

Martin has been featured on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, and her hand-illustrated bedroom walls graced the cover of The New York Times home section in May 2012. Her work has appeared in Creative Review Magazine, and she was named French Glamour’s “coolest it girl” of New York in 2011.

Martin’s recent art commissions include an interior installation at the Viacom headquarters in Times Square and a custom installation for the Brown Institute for Media Innovation located in Pulitzer Hall at Columbia University. She regularly creates live digital drawings at conferences, musical performances and museums, including the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Moving Image, Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts and MoMA.

The 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.

Through its artist-in-residence program and its innovative, interdisciplinary offerings for students, CAI is raising the profile of UB and Buffalo in the world of artistic expression and revitalizing the initiative’s proud tradition as a leader in contemporary art.