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Abstract Artist Emmy Marshall Is The Epitome of Gay ‘Black Boy Joy


Abstract artist Emmy Marshall (Image: Rick Gore)

Every time abstract artist Emmy Marshall, 36, sells a new painting he places a red sticker on the back of his bedroom door. So far this year, there are 52 stickers and counting. It’s one way the Atlanta native and openly gay artist visually celebrates his success, which doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

“This train is moving,” says Marshall during his interview with The Reckoning.

“I don't know how these things are happening, but people find me and they put my name in hats and in rooms and conversations and people are reaching out,” he says.

Besides producing quality work, one theory the self-taught artist has for his recent success is his ability as an abstract artist to tap into the imaginations of art consumers.

“With principles of design, you're creating a piece of artwork and it's open to interpretation,” says Marshall. “I may have a meaning for what this means, but whoever purchases the art or is looking at it may see something totally different. And that is why it is really cool for me because you get to tap into other people's imagination,” he says.

With successful art shows, an abundance of commission requests, and an increasingly expanding social media following, Marshall’s career path and success seemed to come as a surprise to everyone but his sister Kenisha Daniel, who he says was an early supporter of his work. His mother, not so much.

“It wasn't until the work started really selling and being circulated around Atlanta that my sister saw and she was like, ‘Ma, he's selling a lot of stuff, he's doing well,” he recalls.


Marshall tells The Reckoning that this was a turning point for his mother who began to see his artistic talent as a gift worth pursuing.


"The fact that strangers are now buying my work. They don't know me, they're coming in because they see something that they think is beautiful. It is drawing them in from the streets,” he says. “My sister went back and told my mom and she was like, ‘oh, so this art thing is paying off now, huh?"


Marshall says he never let his mother’s initial lack of support deter him from pursuing his art nor did he take it personally.


“I always operate in optimism and anyone that knows me knows that's what I'm about. And I pour that into my work,” he says.


At that moment, a text comes through, causing Marshall to look at his phone. It’s from his mother. “Hi, son!” the text read. He smiles.


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