He is a Santa Fe native, born and raised, “just over there”, he says, making a gesture toward the sun covered mountains.
“I’m very meta-cognoscente, I think a lot about the way I think and certain things just have a clarity to them that other things don’t. Those tend to be my favorite moments or objects or pictures.” Quinn works full-time as an Art Fabricator at Meow Wolf’s new fabrication building on the South side of Santa Fe. Currently he’s focusing on large scale work.
“What I’m doing is really concentrating on molding and casting to make super-realistic things from stone walls to creatures; hollow items that can be lightweight for any façade over eight feet tall.”
Quinn has been a part of Meow Wolf since the beginning. Since the days of cold warehouse living, empty wallets and small, cramped spaces. He fondly refers to them as, “dirty-punk-rock, huddled-around-a-fire days.” He remembers not being able to afford art supplies, and selling everything he owned to fellow Meow Wolfer Matt King before traveling to the Pacific Northwest with very little money but great desire to see the world. He made ends meet by riding trains as a means of transportation — tattooing and working miscellaneous jobs to make fast cash. When Quinn finally made his way back to Santa Fe he started right where he left off: making art with the people he loved.
“When I came back we were just buds painting together — drinking coffee, listening to Willie Nelson and making art on the floor,” he said.
When I asked Quinn if he’s always been an artist I get a laugh and a well thought out response. Quinn explains how growing up in Santa Fe, with a father who already had deep roots in the fine art community, had helped to influence the artist he is now.
“I grew up in galleries, close to incredible artists, gallery owners, gallery directors and marketing people — that hard, mean business side [of art]. We lived in a trailer and in that trailer I had (gallerist) Joe Wade sitting right in front of me. I got to see how much the art meant to the artists making it.”
His upbringing in the arts shows too. When asked about process, Quinn replies intriguingly “Creative process for me has been a two sided coin. Heads, is the part I can't seem to help. The part of me that never stops looking at, dissecting, rearranging and manipulating my reality. The absent doodler, the sugar packet folder. Art is a byproduct for this side, a symptom of time well spent. Tails is all face rubbing and hair tussling, it’s time spent looking into an abstract place and wanting to pull from it some meaning. Most often I end up there when I can't find solutions for myself, when I am conflicted or at odds with a dark moment.”
Quinn goes on to acknowledge that being an artist, particularly a young, forming artist can be a difficult space, but also a way to process the world when you’re an intuitive or sensitive person.
“The darker side [of my art] came from hiding. My early life was unsettled, chaotic, loud, and voiceless. With little to rely on I found that I could always be a little proud of my drawing, no matter how badly the world made me feel, I had this special secret gift. I was polishing a diamond. My art was combative, it was me saying yea, well f— it, I'm an artist.”
Through his experiences, Quinn has evolved into the creator and self aware person he is today. After the birth of his daughter Josephine, Quinn said something inside of him changed for the better. “I'm being honest for her and when I am being my truest self all I want to do is inspire, love, and experience," he said. "When I was invited back to Meow Wolf all of this bloomed and I found myself unable to hide, unable to stop sharing my wonder with these amazing people and the world. If Meow Wolf can help turn all of the pain that I’ve had into a path of this much joy then it needs to be everywhere.”
All photos and video by Kate Russell.