Portrait of an Artist : Kristina Quinones

Kristina Quinones in her San Francisco SOMA Studio photographed by Thomas Kuoh

I first saw Kristina’s work when I was hunting for studio space. Her work was hanging on the wall at the Alabama Street Art Explosion Studios in San Francisco. I immediately fell in love with her work, I just stared and stared and dreamed of having enough money one day to own one of those beautiful flowing fluid waves encased in luscious translucent candy like shells. The depth and layers dance off the wall in a three dimensional illusion of motion, waves of relaxation and tension, pulling at my primal subconscious and bringing out a giddy joy that few art works have done. I did ask her years ago if I could photograph her, but her immediate refusal suggested her general disinterest in ever being photographed. So when I emailed her my project idea of photographing artists in their studio, I didn’t expect much. But when she agreed, and even seemed excited, I was flattered and overjoyed.

We scheduled the shoot early on a Sunday morning, 9am. Me, a family man with a baby at home, forgot that the rest of the world spends Friday and Saturday nights partying and blowing off the weeks steam. And I would not have known had she not apologized for being hungover. And you would not know from the pictures had I not just told you. We had a great time. She was fun, and funny and incredibly photogenic and made my job super easy. Not to mention the otherworldly art that flanked her, how could I take a bad photo? My only wish was to have had more time to just sit and stare at her work some more. I feel as if I could live inside one of her pieces and be totally content.

Each of her pieces take a minimum of 2 months to make. She painstakingly pours each liquidy layer and in a battle with time and gravity, dances around the room with the wooden canvas. Once the perfect flow has been achieved, she sets the piece down on an absolutely leveled base and let’s dry for several days. The humidity and room temperature must be respected and weight heavily into her calculations of pour-ability and drying time. Controlling dust is a constant battle, even one spec of lint can ruin months of work. She will repeat this process at least 10 times for each piece to create the richly complex and unique depth. No expense is spared when it comes to the wooden canvas. Only the best wood and most experienced craftsmen can create the absolutely flat surface needed. Any irregularities in the surface will cause unwanted pooling and thin spots.

Check out her website, www.kristinaq.com, for more info on her and her work.