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Playing with Mud


Jeanne Quinn focuses her talents on making something innately ugly into abstract elegance. Quinn, a CU art instructor, will showcase her work in an upcoming Denver Art Museum exhibit with her material of choice: mud. She has worked with mud-based ceramic material for years, but her latest project is proving years of experience and education are paying off.

Quinn worked in a kitchen in Boston more than 10 years ago, where she realized her creative drive wasn’t satisfied with food.

“When I was a cooking, I realized it was all about making, and nothing about thinking about making,” she said.

That’s when she decided to take a bigger leap into creating art.

“Art-making seemed to be more of a balance between making things and thinking about what it meant to make those things,” Quinn said.

That thought process was part of Quinn’s inspiration for the upcoming exhibit, Marvelous Mud. Quinn uses ceramic, copper wire and lighting to create an exhibit that “recedes in space.” The juxtaposition of the materials is what Quinn wants the public to interpret.

“I’m interested in the metaphorical qualities,” she said, “like thinking about fragility and what does that mean to have something suspended that’s so fragile and what does that make you feel.”

About a year ago, Quinn’s space for the exhibit was carefully chosen in a corner of the large room. Her intention was to create an illusion of her pieces diminishing in the distance. With 50 different molds, she created pieces that started out at 100 percent, then cascaded down to smaller percentages as they move toward the corner of the space. The pieces are also different colors—with white in the front and a light-to-dark gray moving on until the dark gray matches the color of the wall.

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