Kara Mshinda & Ernel Martinez
Mshinda and Martinez present never-before seen bodies of work engaging with the nature of geographies, both conceptual and practical. Basing their investigations within the overlapping contexts of place, environment, community and history, both artists works are grounded in the visual language of collage, which allows them to explore the fragmented realities that a geography can come to embody at different points during an individual’s experience of it.
Kara Mshinda (b. 1978) works with photography and collage to engage diverse and shifting definitions of otherness and identity. Arising from her anthropological curiosity about the “life cycle” of disposable materials and print media, Mshinda uses methods like freehand drawing, collage, and lo-fi photography to develop visual narratives. Her practice embraces visual abstraction in order to ask her audience to pause and reflect on the connections between disparate parts of a whole. Born and raised in Ohio, Mshinda graduated from The University of Akron with a degree in Interdisciplinary Anthropology. She later relocated to Philadelphia to continue her studies in the Anthropology of Visual Communication program at Temple University, where her graduate research focused on the cultural practices of vernacular literacy and the socialization of graffiti writers in Philadelphia. In addition to creating artwork, Mshinda teaches a course on race, identity, and American art at Tyler School of Art and Architecture and is Fellowship Director at Da Vinci Art Alliance. She is a member of Tiger Strikes Asteroid, an artist-run gallery in Philadelphia.
Ernel Martinez (b. 1975) was born in Belize and raised in South Central, Los Angeles and Detroit. His introduction to the art world came in the form of graffiti. In 2003, Martinez began making public art in the city of Philadelphia, as well as working with various non-profits and social services to provide art to disenfranchised youth. His artistic practice focuses on creative methods to give urban communities the tools to tell their stories through art making. He uses their stories as a framework to produce social-practice artwork to engage and build dialogue. He believes that art enriches communities and is the path to “true” collaboration. Martinez Studied art at Pratt Institute and attained his BFA from Kutztown University. In 2004 he received his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania.