Mashell Black was born in Jamaica W.I. in 1980. He grew up primarily with his grandparents, spending time with his father when he was not away on farm work in the United States and Canada. At age fourteen,Mashell moved to Tenafly, N.J. to live with his mother, stepfather, and step-grandmother.
Mashell was fixated on drawing at an early age, which was celebrated and encouraged when he arrived in America. His step-grandmother gave him his first water color lessons. She also helped him learn to read and write as he had limited educational opportunities in Jamaica.
With dedication and the help of his family and teachers, Mashell excelled in middle and high school. He received a substantial scholarship to Syracuse University where he graduated with a bachelor in fine arts. He later went on to Mason Gross at Rutgers University, where he received a masters in fine Arts in 2006.
After graduating, Mashell did construction jobs, substitute teaching, picture framing, and eventually started his own house painting company. All these jobs were focused on making ends meet until he was able to afford a place to paint. Together with his wife, Rabiyah, he was able to acquire a place with enough space to make his art in 2016.
Even though Mashell did not show his work often during the first ten years after graduate school, he never stopped painting or drawing. With the blessing of his wife, he jumped back fully into the art world in 2016.
His technique is characterized by the spilling, splashing, and scraping of the canvas surface, a process as familiar to paint contractors as it is to fine art painters. There is another side to being a painting contractor that Mashell incorporates into his work: the feeling of being in someone else’s space. Even when he is a welcomed guest, there is always the feeling of not quite belonging. He is particularly aware of that relationship in light of spending most of his childhood in homes that were not quite his. This guest status creates a feeling of isolation that shows up in his work frequently. In addition, Mashell is also searching for his place in America as both an immigrant and as an African American.
Mashell has a passion for paints and other materials, which he uses to create simple images and colors fields to tell his story. His paint application, treatment of edges, repetition, drips and chance systems create a spiritual world on the canvas.