ALIVE Magazine Issue 2 2019

Page 32

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ARTIST

W H AT IT IS TO BECOME THE ASTONISHING ART OF PATRICK QUARM. by KEA WILSON / Photography by ATTILIO D’AGOSTINO

Even when you stand completely still, you are changing. But when you move across the room—or to a new continent—the legacy of that former self still clings to you, a ghost whispering in the ear of the person you’ve become. Whether that’s a comfort or a curse is the open question of Detroit-based mixed-media artist Patrick Quarm’s work. Born in post-colonial Ghana to a family of nine and educated in Western-style classical painting, Quarm has wrestled with questions of identity throughout his career, excavating the legacies of influence on his home nation alongside the more universal questions of what it means to bear a body that persists through time and space, even as the self is a state of constant flux. But when Quarm attended Texas Tech to pursue a master of fine arts degree—and came to live in the U.S. for the first time—it opened up his practice to a whole new realm of questioning. And it took his

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work to an astonishing new level. We spoke with Patrick Quarm about hybridity, migration and why Detroit is the perfect place to maintain his art practice. Your work explores the idea of hybrid identity: the person you once were holding space within the body with the person you’ve become; the identity you had in one country merging with the identity you take up as you acclimate to another. Could you tell me a little more about that, and how your decision to do your masters degree in the U.S. shaped this direction in your work?

Moving to the U.S. was a big transition; really, this was me moving from one social space to another, totally different one. And I also went to Texas, which is more of a conservative space than what I was used to.