Privacy is the New Celebrity EP 20: Chris Martin

by Firen Forrest


In Episode 20 we continue to dive into the intersection of privacy and art. MobileCoin CEO Josh Goldbard welcomes Oakland, CA based tattoo and textile artist Chris Martin to talk about his personal journey of creation and his exploration of the African diaspora in his art. Chris is a multidisciplinary artist who blends seemingly disparate cultural art forms such as tattooing and textiles, and explores weighty topics like religion, captivity, and freedom in his work. He has exhibited across the Bay Area and around the country, and is currently celebrating his inaugural solo exhibition, Ancient as Time, at the Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco.

Chris works primarily with fabric, and has recently incorporated large, soft sculptures into his portfolio. Originally from Greensboro, NC, he reclaims cotton as a material of oppression, using it as a free black man to create a new narrative. A lot of his work is inspired from American traditional tattoos, which he finds intersect in surprising ways with the African diaspora: two groups of people that seem very different from each other, but who both crossed the Atlantic ocean, some willingly and some unwillingly.

Josh and Chris discuss the environment where people consume art and examine the question together of whether privacy or safety is necessary for the experience of art. Josh recounts the story of a Banksy exhibition where the artist deliberately released live rats into the museum galleries to challenge people’s ideas on what it meant to be at an art exhibition. Josh ruminates on the fact that some art is in located in places that may be outside the viewer’s comfort zone, like Keith Haring’s art on the streets of NYC in the 1980s or art created and shown in some of the poorest favelas in Brazil.

Josh asks Chris to talk about what it’s like to design and tattoo art on a person’s body. Chris describes the use of ritual, meditation, and private practices to create a sacred space where a person’s body can become a canvas. When asked if privacy is necessary for artists to create, Chris responds that he does find it valuable in his own practice. He expands on how he channels spiritual energy in his work and relies on seclusion to create. He reveals that he effectively spent four months locking himself in his studio everyday alone to make his current body of work at ICA San Francisco come to life.

You can check out Josh’s entire conversation with Chris Martin on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Buzzsprout. While you’re listening, don’t forget to subscribe to Privacy is the New Celebrity Podcast on your favorite streaming service.

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