Shantell Martin Finds Wonder in Sharing the Creative Process

The visual artist completed a new work in front of a crowd at the 1stdibs Gallery.
Shantell Martin
Shantell Martin creating her piece, Centre of Gravity, at the 1stdibs Gallery. Photo by BFA / Ryan Kobane

Shantell Martin isn’t the type of artist who needs to be holed up in her studio alone to create. She proved this a few weeks ago at the new 1stdibs Gallery, at the top of a historic former warehouse in New York’s West Chelsea neighborhood, when she transformed a blank white wall of the 45,000-square-foot space into a lively black-and-white mural in front of a crowd of partygoers.

“It keeps me honest,” the London-born Martin told the group, composed of fans, collectors and members of the Armory Show VIP program, before starting her piece. “Because if I’m drawing, I don’t have time to think, I don’t have time to plan, I don’t have time to hesitate. But more importantly, I don’t have time to be anyone else but myself.” Plus, she added, “there’s something magical about sharing the process, because then you become more connected with the art, and you get to share this experience.”

This fearless, open approach might intimidate some. Not Martin. Known for large-scale installations and collaborations — including a capsule collection with Kelly Wearstler in which she transformed the designer’s furniture and objects with her trademark line drawings — the artist welcomes the uncertainty that comes with spontaneity. “I have no idea what’s going to happen, but that’s fun, right? Because if there’s no idea, then there’s no plan, and then there are no mistakes. You just get to live in the moment and enjoy the process.”

Her completed piece, titled Centre of Gravity, is on display at the 1stdibs Gallery through May, and her work is available on 1stdibs.

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