NORTH BRENTWOOD —To kick off Black History Month, The Prince George’s County African American Museum and Culture Center (PGAAMCC) opened a new exhibition of art by Washington, D.C.-based artist Quest Skinner.
The exhibition, entitled “Soul Illuminance: A Retrospective of Quest Skinner,” featured vibrant paintings and sculptures inspired by cityscapes, music, indigenous culture and the everyday people that the internationally acclaimed artist encounters.
“The show is called Soul Illuminance and as you can see many of Quest’s works have an element of shine, whether it’s glitter, gold paint, resin, these are elements she adds to her paintings and her abstraction to add, that shine, that glow, and we think it’s really about letting what’s inside, your inner, speak and shine its light on the world whether that looks like positive representations of the female body, whether that looks like dreamscapes and imagination, and those are some of the focuses we have for the show,” said Museum Director Monica Montgomery.
Coming from a family of artists, art turned out to just be a part of Skinner. Although she works out of her studio in the Brookland Artspace Lofts in Washington, D.C., she has done art all over the world from Nevada to Texas, Budapest to Israel, to festivals like Burning Man. To this day, she’s sold over 12,500 paintings worldwide, but her inspiration does not just stem from one topic or life experience.
“It’s not like there is one iconic moment and it cemented everything. My life is meant to be iconic,” she said. “Every moment is meant to be captured and encapsulated in art. I’m known for doing maybe 25 to 150 paintings per week.
“So it’s always about what is happening, what is triggering the world around me and being a tool and being able to communicate to the world through these colors, spark their happiness, their joy. By also living in my own and doing amazing that’s that at 41 may not be conventional but they should be practical, and people should be able to jump outside of their proverbial boxes and see themselves as the divine goddess standing with her little waist pack on in the desert or the mermaid.”
Skinner’s work covered all of the main rooms in the museum portraying themes of abstraction, alchemy, dreamscapes and diving femininity with the main set piece being the mermaid. With a tail made out of pennies, hair made from various extension cords and resting on a pool of on motherboards and e-waste, Skinner said this is her favorite piece from the collection as “she is still swimming through all of this as a goddess and she is fabulous and fun.”
“I love her because she’s so dimensioned,” she said. “She has so many textures and so many attitudes.”
Those in attendance at the preview were highly impressed by Skinner’s work. Lawana Holland-Moore from Bowie said they really shine and that “works themselves are just gorgeous.”
“It’s phenomenal,” said Alesia Jackson. “And then for her to tell me she works on so many paintings a week. It’s not like it’s a project how some people take a year to get it done. She’s just motivated. It’s just beautiful I want a lot of people to see it so I’ve been trying to encourage as many people as I can to come to see it.”
Montgomery said Skinner’s work was recommended to her by a friend and when she saw Skinner’s work for the first time at Brookland Artspace Lofts, she knew she had to have it at the museum. It would fit perfectly with their 2019 theme of celebrating black creatives, Montgomery said.
“We wanted to come out strong during black history month with an amazing show highlighting a local black creative person and have that theme continue all year long on our social media events, and exhibits.”
Not only that, but Montgomery wanted to showcase a positive representation of black people for Black History Month and “unapologetic black womanhood.”
“We’ve had enough solemn and I think when we were talking about this collection, I immediately said, you know you’ve seen a lot more of my work than a lot of people, and realism is easy enough but to dream is the hardest think,” Skinner said.
“Around this time of the year we get barraged with images of us constantly being downtrodden, and I just cannot focus yet again another year of only adding a legacy to pain instead of our joy and our enlightenment and possibilities of nurturing ourselves and rebuilding,” Skinner said.
With “Soul Illuminance,” the overall goal is that when people see Skinner’s work they feel inspired and they feel good about themselves.
“Gorgeous cocoa girls rock,” Skinner said. “We rock in many mediums, and we can learn every technique of art. We are our own light and our own joy, and hopefully, they take away a good sense of self.”