Born in a small rural community on the island of Jamaica in 1980, Mashell Black found a calling in expressing himself creatively when school supplies and local resources were not available to provide him with the foundation of a traditional education. After moving to the United States in 1994, Black’s family encouraged him to continue pursuing his art. With the watercolor lessons that his step-grandmother gave him, he also learned to read and write, improving on the limited education he received in his native country.
Black went on to excel in a traditional school environment in Tenafly, NJ, while maintaining his love of drawing and painting. With a substantial scholarship in hand, he attended Syracuse University, graduating in 2003 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Black continued his education and pursued a Master of Fine Arts at Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts, completing his degree in 2006.
From construction work to picture framing to substitute teaching, after graduation Black worked a number of jobs while building a space where he could concentrate on his art. Along the way, he also started his own house painting business. With the blessing of his wife, Rabiyah, Black returned to creating art, developing new techniques, and engaging the art world full-time in 2016.
With the start of the new decade, Black is expanding his art practice even further, channeling his experience as an immigrant and an African American. With one foot firmly planted in the world of painting and the other in drawing, his technique reveals a common theme of isolation as he exists between a state of belonging and not belonging, exploring the place he occupies between them. Equally devoted to both disciplines, Black now uses his creative talent to recognize the spiritual connection that art manifests within an observer, within a community, and within our society.