Editor's note: This interview with Angela McQuillan is presented as part of a content partnership with InLiquid.
Where do you live and work?
I currently live in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood with my boyfriend Steve, our daughter Annalise and our American Eskimo dog Snowball.
What is your discipline?
I am a mixed media artist as well as a curator, and I like to explore the relationship between art and science. I make mixed media paintings, fiber art and sculpture, but don't like to categorize myself too much because I might change my mind later.
What training/arts education have you had?
I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and Drawing from Temple University
. I also have a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Texas at Austin
What are you currently working on?
At the moment, I am having a lot of fun working with resin and acrylic. I like the glossiness of the material -- it makes everything look good. I also like the idea of adding permanence to something by encasing it in plastic and effectively preserving it. I have been experimenting with various types of paints (such as high-flow acrylic) that chemically react with the resin to produce really interesting shapes, some reminiscent of microbial growth patterns. I have also been embedding objects in the resin, such as butterfly wings, beetles and animal bones to reference the idea of preserved specimens.
Describe your methods for us.
I would not consider myself a perfectionist, and I really just like to experiment with different materials and ideas without too much regard for the outcome. I don't have any strict methodology or discipline. I come up with an idea in my head that always turns out completely different when executed in real life. I enjoy this unpredictability -- it's exciting. Sometimes my experiments turn out horribly, and that's OK since I always learn something from my mistakes. Other times, they are successful and usually in an unexpected way. Then I try to duplicate and improve the process.
What's next for you?
I am getting ready to participate in the University of Pennsylvania
's Network Visualization Program
, working with interns and bioengineering scientists to create some interesting artwork. Another project I am preparing is a collaborative effort with artist Sarah Zimmer for Art in the Open Philadelphia
. We will be doing an artistic-scientific investigation of the Schuylkill Banks over a three-day period in May. At the Esther Klein Gallery
, I am working with Brooklyn-based artist Nikki Romanello to curate her solo show called "Astrogenesis," exploring different interpretations of astrobiology; it opens on April 14
What inspires you?
I really love surprises. I think that the natural world is full of so many unexpected, strange organisms and processes. The more we learn about the world, the less we really know. I am also inspired (and afraid) of the way that advances in technology have the potential to completely change life as we know it.
Why do you make art?
This is a tough question since making art has always just been a part of me. I could say that I have a lot of ideas running through my brain, and a good way for me to organize and process my thoughts is to create tangible objects out of them. I'm much better at portraying abstract ideas visually through shapes and color rather than writing them down or talking about them.
What do you hope people will get out of your work?
I don't really mind if people like
my artwork or the shows I curate, as it is impossible to please everyone all the time. I do hope that people generally gain a sense of curiosity, that it sparks an interesting conversation, and that it inspires people to do further investigation into the world around them.
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