Awarding-winning artist Shantell Martin has debuted her 16,000-square-foot mural in the “Big Yard” Seaside playground at Waterside Children’s Studio School. Located near the new Rockaway Hotel and used by 700 students and numerous community members, the outdoor recreational space provides the ground for Martin to make her mural visible to passersby on foot, guests atop the neighboring and new Rockaway Hotel rooftop, and New York City travelers arriving by air.

Photo of Rockaway Hotel MuralPhoto by Jorge Marrón

The mural consists of iconic, monochromatic black and white interconnected lines, Martin’s signature style of drawing, that form texts and images to revitalize and beautify the neighborhood and highlight the vibrancy of the Rockaway Community and its urban beach landscape. “Because of the scale, there are multiple ways to experience the piece. What you have on the ground is very different from the experience you have of it from a higher perspective where you get to see how the lines, words, and faces are actually interacting with each other,” Martin said. “It’s all about discovery and letting people interact with it the way they naturally feel inclined to.”

The project is a response to an open call letter from Friends of Seaside Playground, a grassroots organization dedicated to promoting wellness through art, sports, and outdoor activities for children in the community, and its partners 7|G Foundation and The Rockaway Hotel. The committee sought proposals for a temporary mural at the “Big Yard.” Martin, who has previously presented her works on large scale screens at World Trade Center and on a former military chapel on Governors Island, was unanimously chosen by the committee. “When curating a public artwork, it is imperative that the work connects to the community that is living with it,” said Michi Jigarjian, Rockaway Hotel’s Social Impact Officer. “For Shantell’s piece in Rockaway, she centers on the empowerment of understanding ‘who you are’ and ‘yes you are you,’ which is a powerful message for a community as diverse and vibrant as Rockaway.”

Photo of Shantell MartinShantell Martin was selected unanimously to design the mural at the “Big Yard.” Photo by Jorge Marrón.

As an advocate for forging new connections between fine art, education, design, philosophy, and technology, Martin states on her website that she aspires her black and white drawings to be more than an object of admiration disconnected from its inception, and hopes that her works can redefine the role of the artist and the viewer. She is currently teaching as an adjunct professor at NYU Tisch Interactive Telecommunications Program and working with her students to push the boundaries of storytelling, visual art, and technology. “In general, I want the community to know me and my work, and I want the community to feel included in the process of the work,” she said.

Next, check out our article on the 10 New Public Art Installations in NYC October 2020