04/23/14 7:55 AM



Academic Programs

Spelman College Celebrates the Life and Legacy of Professor Frank Toby Martin

Loyalty, tenure, race and faith are driving forces that shape my selections for creative output. Family, children and hope are lasting legacies that I wish to improve upon through my life as a sculptor who uses his ability to construct and manipulate materials toward an image. That image becomes an answer for my thoughts, which become tangents that follow a spiritual timeline that is never ending. I hope for the betterment of our society and I contribute my offerings with sincere actions.

-- Frank Toby Martin

Dear Members of the Spelman Community,

I am saddened to inform you of the passing of Professor Toby Martin on April 25, 2012. A member of the art department for many years and a renowned sculptor, Toby was a teacher dedicated to the development of the creative spirit in his students and drawn to the interdisciplinary intersections of art and science.

I know many of his colleagues can recall with delight, as I do, the engaging dialogues they had with Professor Martin about creativity. One of Toby Martin’s iconic works is permanently installed in proximity to the Cosby Building, a wonderful example of Toby’s own creative spirit.

Toby loved Spelman College and his students very much, and he will be deeply missed. Upon hearing of his death, we flew the Spelman flag at half-mast in honor of Professor Martin.

-- President Beverly Daniel Tatum


Celebrating the Life of Frank Toby Martin

Sculptor and associate professor of art Frank Toby Martin's passion for art spanned nearly fifty years. His provocative work, which often intertwines freedom and spiritual discovery, graces the Spelman campus, but can be also seen throughout the South. One of his most recent pieces, "Music of Love Elevates the Soul," a stainless steel sculpture, was accepted into the LaGrange National XXVII Biennial, and will be on view until the end of April.

See video footage of Toby Martin's work:

Toby Martin @ Mason Murer Projects from ArtRelish.com on Vimeo.

'Diachronic Journey' solo show at Mason Murer Projects

More information at http://masonmurer.com

Biographical Sketch

Retrieved From Hammonds House Gallery Website

Toby MartinFrank Toby Martin was born in 1951 in Jacksonville, Florida. Sunday school, community activities, and sports shaped his childhood; and his family strongly supported individual development.

Martin's passion for the arts began while playing in his grandfather's dump as a child. For Martin this place was more than the final destination for discarded items; it was architecture, sculpture, music, and photography. It was here in his grandfather's material landscape, that he perceived the meaning of form, light, space, and shape. It was also here where he realized that things that normally would not go together could come together as one to create masterpieces.

Martin arrived in Atlanta, Georgia in 1972. It was here that his development as a sculptor began to root itself with an infusion of southern charm, revolution, and segregation. As a sculptor he felt compelled to expose his visions for critical review in order to see his truths lead to wisdom and wisdom to justice.

After receiving his Bachelors of Arts from Morehouse College in 1976, Martin went on to obtain his MFA degree from Georgia State University's sculpture program in 1986. His thesis was entitled, "Form From My Spirit in a Three Dimensional World."

Throughout Frank Toby Martin collections, there is a constant pursuit of spiritual discovery. His work reflects his being responsible for something and someone, which coincides with his responsibilities as not only an African-American man, but as a husband and father as well. According to Martin, it was his work that strengthened his existence, rather than his financial holdings. Martin felt that money is important, but it should not be the inspiration to any artist.

"I want to leave with a free spirit...I don't want to be trapped by financial slavery" said Martin.

Intertwined through Martin's art is the pursuit of freedom. Freedom obtained through his spirituality, gave him the power to make his own decisions regarding artistic expression.

"My sense of direction is based upon my love for freedom." According to Martin this sense of freedom allowed him to take his art in many directions.

Martin's Works of Art on the Spelman College Campus:

Title:                   Form, Spirit and Lyrical Progression
Year Created:    1988
Location:            Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby, Ed D. Academic Center (outdoor/left side of building)

In His Own Words:

My inspiration does not come from one place; it comes from existence itself and all that is here.

Form is related to identity and each form has a certain spirit and as we move through life we have a rhythm and that is where lyrical progression evolution comes from, and the beat changes as life changes.  As we go through life, we have different progressions — the work is a frozen moment of all three; form spirit and lyrical progression. 

Through my diachronic journey and my involvement with public art this work was commissioned by a private collector who had a relationship with the friends of Spelman.  I have thousands of drawings and the collector actually looked through five of my books and found one he liked and asked if I could build it for him, and I said yes.  After nine years of ownership, the piece was given to Spelman as a gift with the belief that the work would continue to be viewed and appreciated by many.       

Title:                   Inscription
Year Created:    1988
Donald and Isabel Stewart Living & Learning Center I

Inscription was derived when I was cutting out the major shapes for "Forms, Spirit and Lyrical Progression." I was building two sculptures while working on the one.  While I was building one I saw another sculpture out of the scrap shapes and build it.  Inscription was in the 1988 National Black Arts Festival.
Inclusive in inscription are memories of history and those involved with making history.