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
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.