Quinlan Lewis-Mussa

Artist Statement

My artwork is an exploration of my racial identity in today’s “post-racial” society. I explore what it means to be a mixed black and white woman, the difficulties of feeling between two worlds, and the simple joy that can be derived from finding your place in the world and my desperate search for it. I am constantly questioning the socio-political system of today’s America, and attempting to understand how I fit into it, asking my viewers and myself, “Am I black enough?” I am also a fierce advocate against misconceptions and stereotypes around black people, using any and all mediums to rage against what I know is wrong. At the same time, however, I am attempting to grapple with present insecurities and uncertainty about my racial ambiguity. This dual nature of my work has brought about some difficult questions: what is it to be black? Can someone who is black heritage-wise not be “black enough”? Who decides blackness? These are some of the questions that I keep in mind as I work.

In my work, I tend to choose the media based on my concept rather than the other way around, working primarily in painting, installation, performance and text-based art. The art-making process helps me better understand this important part of my identity as an aspect of myself, and to make my viewers contemplate the issues I bring up. However, what I want most of all out of my work is to create a full, complex depiction of my life and the different facets it holds. I want to express myself as a part of the black community, myself as a biracial person, my anger, my fears, my desperate desires, and in doing so allow for the viewer to step into my shoes and, if not understand, at least empathize. Because despite our differences, whether they are cultural, economic, political, or racial, our humanity is the common thread that binds us all together.