Quin de la Mer Artist Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your work? Tell us about the themes you pursue in your work?

I am a conceptual artist based primarily in California. I earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts from the California Institute of Integral Studies. I have exhibited work nationally and internationally in gallery settings and public forums, been an artist in residence in the U.S. and abroad, and have been a featured artist in print and web magazines globally. My works reside in several private and public permanent collections.

My artwork depicts abstract forms connecting the viewer to a sensory emotional experience. I subscribe to the idea that art is not so much something to look at, as it is a means to look beyond what is seen, allowing the work to lead the viewer on a meta-reflective journey.

In my making process, new work begins as an idea followed by experiential research and place-related experience. This leads to decisions regarding appropriate media related to the seed idea. Making work in the studio begins when I enter non-ordinary reality by listening to shamanic drumming. While remaining in a liminal state of awareness, I produce art sustained by motivation to communicate what is unseen but is surely present. My primary media are fresco painting, cyanotype and text as medium. I create visual music, visual poetry, and visual conversations to bridge the gap between the physical and the spiritual. Together my artworks create an interwoven narrative of nested stories swinging in the balance between invisible and visible forces and their impact on existence.

My aim is to listen to the natural world as it communicates through metaphor, sound, and vibration, and create visual expressions to generate a sensory-emotional connection between people and environmental degradation.

Is there something you couldn’t live without in your studio? What is your most essential tool?

Isolation. My work depends on my ability to be alone with my ideas, enter the natural world and truly listen – deeply connect, and come back to the sound of silence where entry into liminal space is possible. Although a private studio provides the perfect place, on a deeper level the something I can’t live without is isolation.

How has your working process changed during the pandemic, what is your working method? How has the pandemic affected you, your artwork and day to day?

I consider myself a nomadic artist. Traveling to locations on the front lines of climate change is a major part of my process. I arrived in the Pacific Northwest just as the pandemic made itself known and civilization transformed from business as usual to home-bound isolation. The biggest adjustment for me is being without a studio space that allows me to make the mess I am used to making during my creative process. This means I cannot make large works of art. Also, in order to be respectful of the rental home I am in, I must be incredibly careful that the small works do not leave a trace. As time passes, I find myself trying new media; and I really like it. Using an iPhone, I am making experimental shorts to create avant-garde noir art. When I am out in the wilderness that is so abundant in the PNW, I film the shape of my walk while recording the vibrant sounds around me. The wildlife is emerging healthy and more alive than I have experienced in the past. As the human business as usual paradigm ceases to be, the natural world repairs, heals, and strengthens. It is a joy to behold.

Actually, I feel much happier and my connections with non-human life forms are more joyous. Prior to the pandemic, the eminent mass extinction of species played a big role in my making process. The work I created was intertwined with death and creating funeral services for those species and ecosystems that were departing or already gone forever.

Obviously exhibiting artwork physically is on hold, have you any projects or goals you are working towards?

It is gratifying to be published online. I consider it an exhibition and am grateful to those, like Murze Magazine, that make it possible for artists and their publics to connect.

I continue to make place-related work. I am using this time to experiment with different mediums and create with what I have around me. I am writing my concepts for exhibitions as a form of directions so that one day they might be followed, allowing the public to experience and interact with the work. I find this extremely rewarding and something I might not have considered before. The idea of publishing the conceptual directions as a book is just beginning to formulate. I have also started to compile my archives. I like the idea of archival storytelling and turning old content into new work.

What do you feel the role of artists and photographers is in society?

People frequently mention art as though being creative and generating something creative is the same as being a contemporary fine artist making work that reflects and reimagines the artists experience. Humans are creative. Being an artist is a constant process, not a human trait. Essentially, creativity has nothing to do with the arts. This can be confusing because art has everything to do with creativity. Recently, novelist James Bradley wrote an article in the Guardian stating “Part of the job of any art is what the cultural theorist Donna Haraway calls staying with the trouble. Art exists to record how it feels to be alive here, now, to capture the confusing, conflicting, sometimes terrifying, sometimes joyous messiness of the moment. It exists to bear witness.” I believe art goes further than that. The artist works from within the present in order to create portals to new stories; stories that leave dysfunctional paradigms in the dust. The true nature of the artist is to engage the unknown and unknowable, to envision possibilities that are presently rebuked, and create new paradigms.

“Art is the queen of all sciences communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world.” (Leonardo da Vinci)


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