Mary West Quin: Divine Light: The Judge and Jury of the Heart
Mary West Quin is an artist and educator based in Alabama. The human heart is the subject of her series Divine Light: The Judge and Jury of the Heart. Using elements of science as a jumping off point, the heart is a metaphor offering the viewer to ponder much more than its physical and functional properties.
Quin began this series by creating small-scale medical illustrations of the physical heart using graphite on paper. She drew the hearts over and over, creating a muscle memory to strengthen her instincts for drawing the heart. It was important to her that these drawings became an intuitive habit rather than a literal drawing exercise. In the second stage of her creative process she used gestural movements to paint abstract representations of the heart onto light sensitive paper using platinum/palladium.
The final 13 photographs are presented as a large-scale wall installation. An interesting juxtaposition presents itself as Quin created 13 hearts, in the darkroom, in search of inner light.
It is thought that there is a sacred light in the electrical hub of the heart. This “divine light” is referenced by many religious texts. Many believe it to be a place of sacred inner knowledge, that which gives us the spark of life. Our modern culture tends to outsource this knowing to other systems of “authorities”—media, technology, religion, education and, perched at the top, the courts looming down.
The stamp of truth in our western contemporary society comes from the judicial system. Truths are fought over, weighed, and then litigated into stone. What the legal system decides becomes gospel: twelve jurors and a judge—thirteen individuals—are granted the authority to decide what becomes common truth. Yet, the number thirteen is viewed as taboo, a notion so rooted in our culture that we do not even think to question it, or to know its origin. Taboo in the sense of being too sacred to touch or question. So many of the matters which are legislated are also, in this sense, taboo—all the contradictory manners in which we value and define life, both living and dead.
This body of work taps into the ancient modalities of meditation that are designed to keep us tuned in to our divine inner knowing. Through examining modern constructs of truth and knowledge, I seek to understand their function, source and application in the everyday through the taboo number of thirteen. Thus, 13 hand drawn platinum palladium hearts, become a place to pause and contemplate truth and inner, divine knowing—and the forbidden questioning we accept. Because the hearts are created in the darkroom using platinum palladium and then exposed to light, the meditation and my knowing come full circle as I continue to ponder and find my inner light. My hope is that the hearts will inspire others to look inside themselves and contemplate their own divine was of determining truth and knowledge. – Mary West Quin
Visual artist Mary Quin is driven by questions of meaning, purpose and perception, as well as seeing the subtlety within human existence—the sacred within the mundane.
Call it Truth (with a capital T) or the divine, she aspires to represent a deeper, more intuitive way of seeing. Her work explores a paradox of photography by rendering fleeting ideas and feelings into fixed images. Drawing on concepts from anthropology, philosophy and spirituality, she explores the space between camera and subject – an area that often mirrors the spaces within and between people.
Quin utilizes a range of historic photographic equipment and processes in order to stay grounded in the historical roots and questions inherent in photography—concerns of permanence, objectivity and perception. In some instances, using an 8×10 view camera, she creates large negatives to produce platinum palladium contact prints. And at other times she uses found objects and individuals to create large-scale cyanotypes.
Her work has been exhibited nationally and is held in many collections including the Center for Creative Photography. Quin’s recent solo exhibitions have been at The Lionheart Gallery in Pound Ridge, New York (2016, 2017) and Nadine Blake, New Orleans, Louisiana (2017, 2018, 2019).
Quin holds a BS in Anthropology from Millsaps College, an MA in Philosophy from the University of Southern Mississippi and an MFA in Photography from Savannah College of Art and Design.
Follow Mary West Quin on Instagram: @marywestquin
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