Mashell Black


I started house painting as a summer job while I was a graduate student at Mason Gross, Rutgers in 2005. After graduation, I started a painting business to stay afloat. In 2013, my wife and I bought a home in Raritan, NJ. I slowly found my way back into a full studio practice.

When I returned to painting it no longer felt right. The clever imagery and fancy brush strokes that I was using as a graduate student felt like a lie. My experience as a house painter changed the way I viewed myself. I had to find a way to include this new self image into my art. I often feel dirty, overworked, and undervalued. I feel the same as my drop clothes and so I had to bring them along with me. The art world is full of lights and prestige and I want my drop clothes to experience the elevation from utility to precious.

The wonderful thing about working large scale is that I am often working inside the painting. The only time I can see what I am doing is when I walk about 20 feet back. There is an intimacy and a relationship to the body that the viewer gets from close up. Working on the used canvas made sense for a while, but now I work directly on plywood and paint over it with each new work. I also invite my wife and seven years old son to participate in the painting process.

Selected Works