Huddled over a canvas or gazing thoughtfully at a sculpture, Shauntrice Martin is in her element. She has honed her craft for years, working with various media and exploring race, culture, and identity themes. Her art has captivated audiences in Louisville, KY and beyond, earning her a well-deserved reputation as a rising star in the city’s flourishing arts scene.
But for Martin, art is more than just a vocation. It’s a passion that extends beyond the studio into the community where she lives and works. As a Louisville Visual Art Association board member, she has actively engaged in the city’s cultural landscape, partnering with other artists and curators to bring new perspectives and fresh voices to the forefront.
For Martin, building awareness and understanding around issues of race and identity is always at the forefront of her work. “The stories of my ancestors inspire me,” she says, “those who were taken from their homes, families, and cultures and brought here against their will, their stories are our stories, and we must remember them”.
Martin’s work reflects a deep sense of connection to the past and a commitment to telling forgotten stories. Her mixed media pieces (including sculpture, photography, and textiles) are often layered and complex, inviting the viewer to engage with them on a deeper level. Using different textures and materials, Martin creates a sense of tension and depth that mirrors the complexity of her themes.
Throughout her career, Martin has been inspired by various curators, artists, and creatives who have challenged her to think more deeply about her work. Among her influencers are Kelli Morgan (Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Speed Art Museum), Poet and Activist, Hannah Drake, and Aurora James (a fashion designer committed to sustainability and ethical production).
Martin is also guided by the legacies of the artists who came before her, particularly those from her hometown of Louisville. “We are at the epicenter of creativity,” she says. “There is something incredibly innovative and culturally significant about the West End of Louisville in particular”.
For Martin, the West End is a place of deep historical significance, one that the experiences of African Americans and other marginalized communities have shaped. She points to the Ohio River (which played a key role in the slave trade) as a reminder of the city’s heritage and the need to keep telling these stories.
But despite the weight of this history, Martin remains optimistic about the future of the arts in Louisville. She is particularly excited about the work of artists like Hannah Drake, who push the boundaries of what is possible and create new conversations around race and identity.
For Martin, the importance of these conversations cannot be overstated. “We must continue to have these discussions, to push ourselves and others to think more deeply about the issues that affect us all,” she says. “It’s through art and creativity that we can begin to build bridges and find common ground”.
Martin is deeply committed to highlighting and promoting the work of other Black artists. She created Chahta Noir as a resource for artists to network and develop their skills. Some of the artists she has worked with include Lance G. Newman II, Tomisha Lovely-Allen, Sandra Charles, Ashlee Phillips, and Jon P. Cherry. For Martin, showcasing the work of Black artists is not just a passion but a mission. She believes that Black artists are often overlooked and undervalued in the art world and that it is her responsibility to help change that.
As Martin continues to make her mark on the Louisville art scene, her work serves as a reminder of art’s power to heal, inspire, and challenge. Through her captivating and thought-provoking pieces, she invites us to consider our histories, identities, and place in the world. In doing so, she reminds us that art is not just a product but a process that requires us to engage with each other and the world around us in new and meaningful ways.
Martin has had her work featured in some of the top art spots in Louisville. Places like the Speed Art Museum, Roots 101 African American Museum, Kennedy Center, and Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture & History have housed her works.