Christina Quarles


Lives and Works:  Los Angeles, CA

Mediums:  Painting

How has your work progressed over time both in subject matter and medium?

I use wet and dry media to explore identity politics and my personal experience as a multiracial, queer feminist. Currently, in the studio, I am working on several different series. Throughout each body of work—whether it be the landscapes of interpersonal exchange in the Dissonant Bodies series, the pithy drawings of The 100 Series, or my recent venture into oil portraiture—themes of multiplicity, ambiguity, and co-existing opposition permeate both the content and my method of mark-making. By often contradicting the very reality they create, I see my work serving as an exercise in unhinging a constructed reality, allowing for an exploration of what is gained and what is risked when attempting to transcend categories of fixed identity.

Who is your role model?

Some of my earliest art memories are of me wandering around a Mike Kelley retrospective at LACMA. I still can’t decide if this experience should be classified as inspirational or traumatic but, whatever the case, that, along with a lot of Ren and Stimpy and my cousin’s collections of Mad Magazines, was formative to my infatuation with the grotesque.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Being completely present in the moment, which usually happens while I’m painting and always happens while I’m taking an afternoon nap with a warm dog.

What is your guilty pleasure?

A parade! Especially when they are unexpected.

What is your greatest fear?

Airplanes, though I find myself on them again and again.

Who is your favorite artist?

I couldn’t begin to pick a favorite, but seeing the Cecily Brown show at Gagosian and the Natalie Frank show at ACME have inspired evolutions within my own painting style over the past year.

Who or what is the greatest love of your life?

My partner of 13 years, Alyssa. Her and I have traveled quite a bit together over the years—we’ve lived on a coffee farm in Hawaii, backpacked through Basque country, and have camped in more national parks than I could count. My dearest moments are the adventures that we share together experiencing new and exciting things.

What is your greatest regret?

I do not live by the idea of regrets. We all make choices that further us down a path and there is no way of knowing how the outcome could have been any different had we made other choices. My outlook is to learn from my mistakes, try to make better choices in the future and to never dwell on what can’t be changed about the past.