Artist Shantell Martin collaborates with her surroundings, translating into glyphs, lines, recurring characters, and words the newspaper someone is reading across the way, say, or a pair of shoes walking by, a thought she had, the sky, something overheard. Her universe is flexible, multi-dimensional, surreal, a constellation of small observations that spill from one medium to the next.

Whether it’s light on a wall, marker on skin, or pen or paint on canvas, she uses whatever materials are readily available and digs in for the sake of fun, often fueled by music. “I want people to experience my work without attaching any story line to it,” she says. “I don’t really care about preserving the moment, just about being in it.” What’s produced is unexpected, a whole experience that’s simultaneously all encompassing and impermanent, continuously morphing or erasing itself.

Recent appearances include performances at MoMA, Museum of the Moving Image, and Tokyo and London megaclubs; she’s been cast as herself on Gossip Girl, featured on CNN, and interviewed on an NBC morning show; she was a guest speaker at the PSFK 2010 conference and a guest lecturer at the Yota Space festival in St Petersburg, Russia.

Photo by Brandan Babineaux