For the 2019 NYCB Art Series, Shantell Martin created Finding Your Way, a meditation in lines.
Beginning with the simple yet profound question, WHO ARE YOU, Martin sought to build empathy between artist and subject, and to gain insight into the dancers’ relationship to their body, the Company, and the process of nurturing the vulnerability of self-expression. As an artist devoted to her own rules of engagement – lines and primarily monochromatic black and white imagery – Martin found relatability in the structure and tradition of dance, the rules of choreography, and the parameters of a ballet company. Inspired by dancer interviews, and drawn largely onsite during Company rehearsals, Martin’s lines changed with the energy of each piece, until “the dancers turned to lines and shapes, and faces began to disappear.”
As audiences entered the Theater, the Plaza windows and Box Office walls greeted them with visual contemplations on questions of identity. The concept of opposites was explored on the Orchestra level, while the Promenade contained 8 large framed pieces, 36 towering canvases, and a massive floor piece, reflecting the movements, thoughts, and feelings Martin observed in the dancers. The exhibit became a living conversation between the art being performed, its visual interpretation, and the audience’s experience in viewing both.
Shantell Martin is a British artist who's been living in NYC for nearly a decade. From her early beginnings with live performance drawings to sound, music and dance projected digitally in the mega clubs of Tokyo, to her trademark stream-of-consciousness physical drawings here in the U.S., her work is a mediation of lines that invites people to share a role in the creative process. Aside from her studio practice and numerous public installations, Shantell serves as an adjunct professor at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and is a visiting scholar at the MIT Media Lab. Her work has been seen in group shows at the Brooklyn Museum and Museum of the Moving Image, in solo exhibitions at the Albright-Knox museum and MoCADA, and in a 75-minute performance with Kendrick Lamar in 2016 during Art Basel Miami.