the Beautiful and the Grotesque - Nathaniel Mary Quinn's impeccable interpretation of identity

Updated: Apr 4, 2019

Class of 92 - Nathaniel Mary Quinn

"I hope to convey a sense of how our experiences, both good and bad, operate to construct our identities." ~ Nathaniel Mary Quinn

Artist Profile:

  • Contemporary Artist and Painter

  • Creates "large-scale, mixed-media drawings and paintings of collaged and fragmented figures"

  • His works are comprised of various drawing media, family photographs and images from fashion magazines, google, advertisements and articles


Artist Biography:

Nathaniel Mary Quinn was born in the year of 1977 in Chicago, Illinois. He grew up impoverished, living in a tenement house on the south side of Chicago. His interest in art sprung at the age of 5 when he began drawing on his apartment walls. His mother encouraged him to pursue his interest in the art once she discovered his talent; gang members in his neighbourhood soon recognised his gift as well and offered him protection for the sake of having themselves featured in one of his comic strips. In 8th grade, he earned a scholarship to a private boarding school situated in Indiana. Unfortunately, a month into the school year, his father called him with the news of his mother's passing. Overcoming his devastation, he continued to immerse himself in his studies. However, on the day of Thanksgiving, he arrived at an empty apartment only to discover that his family had abandoned him. From this point on he realized education was his means of survival and success, leading him to become the artist he is today.

"We are all a sum of our experiences."Nathaniel Mary Quinn

Early Years as an Artist:

Nathaniel Mary Quinn began his career by devoting himself towards the politics of race in America. Despite this theme being incompatible with his interests, he continued painting countless racial works due to outside expectations he had to uphold as an African-American from Chicago. One day he had a vision of a face and felt the need to plaster it on a canvas. Using key facial features (eyes, nose, and a mouth) and images from several sources guided by his intuition, he created a piece that turned out to be "a Frankenstein-like portrait" of his brother Charles. Hereafter, he ascertained that recreating visions was his calling. Additionally, the process of executing his pieces gave him the opportunity to healthily harness his experiences.

"I also want to portray a mutual relationship between the acceptable and the unacceptable, the grotesque and what is aesthetically pleasing." ~ Nathaniel Mary Quinn

(Top Left: It was All A Dream, Top Center: Little Sister, Top Right: Fifteen, Bottom Left: Mama in Winter, Bottom Right: Mama in Fall)


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