Multidisciplinary, multimedia artist Shantell Martin recently debuted a site-specific installation with Subliminal Projects based on a 27-point manifesto by Martin that explores the future of the art industry. 

Martin’s manifesto is “a hope, a wish, and an encouragement for everyone to look deeper into how we support artists, how we protect artists, how we empower artists, and how we value art and the artists who dedicate their lives to their craft.” Martin is known for her ongoing use of her signature, spontaneous hand-drawn lines which explores the reciprocal relationship between artist and viewer. Her hope is to create works of art that are more than objects of admiration.

Martin is a cultural facilitator who forges new connections between fine art, education, design, philosophy, and technology. Her work has been featured at institutions such as Albright-Knox, the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, and MoMa.We sat down with Martin to learn more about her installation with Subliminal Projects, which is open for viewing at 1331 W Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California until June, 4, 2022.

Shantell Martin in the process of creating “THE FUTURE” for Subliminal Projects.  Photographed by Michelle Mosqueda.

BLAC: What inspired you to title your series “THE FUTURE”? How does this title play into your goal of promoting diverse inclusion in the arts? 

Martin: I’ve been thinking for a very long time about a manifesto for what the future of art would look like, and this show gave me the opportunity to write that manifesto and create works inspired by its principles. This led to the show’s title, “THE FUTURE,” and an ongoing series of works. Part of the messaging of my work is accessibility, inclusion, and asking questions. 


BLAC: How have you been preparing for the Subliminal Projects show? 

Martin: Initially, preparation has been a lot of thinking, reading, reflecting, and drawing on paper, canvases, and objects. A couple of the pieces in the show are whole cloth quilts, so I spent some time researching and looking into this. I don’t think there’s a typical day in my life. I’m emailing, on the phone, drawing, eating lunch, possibly working out, and taking many meetings, but it’s never the same. My partner, Laksmi Hedemark, helped me with some of the copy for the manifesto, and the gallery, Subliminal, has also been a great partner in helping bring this show together.

“THE FUTURE” exhibition photographed by Steph Louise Enciso.

BLAC: What do you hope for audience members to feel and think after they view your work? What shift in dialogue do you hope your work will bring to community members? 

Martin: My work is very bold, playful, and open on the surface. That helps draw people into the more significant existential questions, ponderings, and motivations in the work. I want them to feel inspired. I want the work to permit them to want to create themselves.

BLAC: Your work deals with the question “What and who is art for?”. In your opinion, what and who is art for?

Martin: I do believe art is for the people. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we should all be artists, but there are benefits to us all utilizing the activities that we are so naturally drawn to as children. However, we build our society with giant facades around art to justify things like the art market and the value of work, but I believe if we were all creating art, the world would be a much better place.

“THE FUTURE” exhibition photographed by Steph Louise Enciso.

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