Brown Institute Opening Features Artist Who Goes Where Her Pen Leads Her

With the parting of a leopard-print curtain and the flash of cameras, the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation officially opened Sept. 16 in its new space in the Journalism School’s Pulitzer Hall.

October 08, 2014

The Institute, endowed by longtime Cosmopolitan magazine editor Helen Gurley Brown in honor of her late husband, the movie producer of such hits as Jaws and Driving Miss Daisy, opened in 2012, but its specially designed space has been under construction since then. A collaboration between the Journalism School and Stanford Engineering—David Brown was an alumnus of both—the Brown Institute was founded with the mandate to invent and apply cutting-edge technology to journalism and storytelling.

“With each moment of technological innovation, our conception of what constitutes a story has changed and been a catalyst for new innovation,” said Mark Hansen, director of Columbia’s Brown Institute. “When we evaluate projects, we put equal weight on finding good stories and telling them in unique, compelling ways.”

One of those different ways is through the work of Shantell Martin, a visual artist known for her enormous line drawings in public spaces such as the corporate headquarters of Viacom and Y&R, the luxury clothing store Lane Crawford in Hong Kong and MIT’s media lab. At the Brown Institute, Martin used a Krink K-51 permanent black ink marker with a wide tip to draw freestyle up a staircase, going where her pen took her to make row upon row of faces with phrases such as “open your door find out more” and “don’t hide in the corner.” Martin, who will be a Brown fellow starting in January, also draws with computers, setting her work to music.