Begin the Beguine

KRISTIN QUINN
Begin the Beguine, oil on canvas, 72'' x 60'', 2005

Kristin Quinn earned her BFA from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in 1984 and her MFA in painting from Indiana University in 1988. She has been a Professor of Art at Saint Ambrose University in Davenport since 1989.

I grew up in a house of optical phenomena. My father was a physicist with a specialty in optics (although neighbors claimed he worked at the Optical Department at Sears). Lasers, lenses, prisms, and holographs were plentiful; as were lessons on the natural world. In our house, a solar eclipse became a graduate level seminar. On long car trips, we passed the time with questions to stump Dad: Why was the sky orange, what caused hail, and how were tunnels built under the bay? (Incidentally, we refer to these questions now as "Tunnel Talk" questions).

I begin my paintings with questions like those of "Tunnel Talk" times. What is the color of amber, iron-ore, pollen? How can wind and water be suggested? The paintings gradually grow in layers. In the strata of paint, the shape of a microscopic protein hovers beneath a planet's elliptical orbit and decorative ironwork cancels out dense foliage. It is these strange alliances between the common and uncommon, natural and synthetic that I find compelling to paint. The compressions, connections, and contradictions of the layers shape the personality of the painting.This knotted, painted combination forces a continual shift of attention among the many levels. I compare this to a single moment in landscape and the competing levels of activity. When I stand on Devonian limestone on the levee of the Mississippi, the barges and riverboats pass, herons fly, behind, a train noisily rumbles and streetlights flicker on, the smell of diesel fuel drifts in while rain clouds build. It's the density of experience that continues to raise questions and excite me as a painter.

Kristin Quinn's website

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on April 30, 2009

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