Perfect Lover

Also presented in the following exhibitions:

Perfect Lover, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

Material Speculations: NCECA Invitational Exhibition 2002, H and R Block Artspace at the Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri. Curated by Raechell Smith and Michel Conroy.

Artist Statement

Clay is a material that works in concert with the body. This was one of my first attractions to ceramics. I loved the idea that I could give not only what all sculpture may give-- visual pleasure or provocation-- but that I might also affect someone's body movement by how they held a bowl or brought a cup to their lips, or because of what the vessel might contain.

In making porcelain q-tips, I move from the realm of feeding the body to that of cleansing the body. The tradition of sanitary-ward is present in my choice of material (porcelain) and cleansing in my choice of object (q-tip). The reference to utility is nearly inescapable when one chooses clay as a material. In Perfect Lover, I choose a less often discussed aspect of utility by choosing the porcelain of the bathroom over the porcelain of the kitchen. A second aspect of the material tradition-- ceramics as one of the decorative arts-- is foregrounded through my choice of pattern as image.

I have long been fascinated by the mirror image. If one makes a thing, even a bad thing, it becomes legitimized and beautified by joining another thing exactly like it. While symmetry is a simple design solution, I am also interested in it as a metaphor. In using reflectivity, I speak of the possibility of finding the opposite who is also the same. The mirror image makes visible the other side, necessarily acknowledging the other.

- Jeanne Quinn


. . . excruciatingly well-installed, however, is the wall-borne installation, Perfect Lover (Soft Things Made Hard), by Colorado artist Jeanne Quinn. Quinn's installation includes basically one structural element-Q-tips-though it also includes some which have been made of porcelain and glazed in an azure crystalline blue glaze, giving them the look of glass. Small holes have been drilled into the wall incrementally, by virtue of a now invisible line drawing, and inserted into them are both forms of her Q-tips. These predetermined units emerge at various lengths from the wall's surface, forming a series of gestural arabesques that cast subtle shadows at various degrees.

The overall design manages to be at once symmetrical and meticulous, as well as florid and erotically ambiguous. The effect is superb and magical at first encounter, then, upon closer inspection, more accessible (not to mention hygienically familiar) without losing its truly bizarre nature. As its title implies, the soft and hard elements of this piece are held in balance. Transcending their known function, they suggest a metaphoric search for relationships that should be both intimately and sexually synchronous.

- from "Craft is a Given, Concept is Key," by Marcus Cain. Review, Kansas City, Missouri, March-April 2002, pp. 32-33.

Excerpt from Exhibition Catalog

It may seem strange to regard Jeanne Quinn's work as conceptual and activist, but [her work] suggests the 'speculative' character of gender. The same flower-like phallic form can be read as male or female, depending upon its position (a witty articulation of the biological truth, at least in the embryo). Counting and My Wait, both 2000, carry her conceptual use of serial repetitiveness to witty absurdity. The vessel-like form, however distinctive and organic looking, remains part of a grand intellectual ensemble meant to cast doubt on such psycho-biological situations as sex and love. The vessel as such means next to nothing for Quinn, however seductive its form. It acquires its meaning as part of her debunking conceptual project. The organic look of her works is thus deceptive: the hanging testicle-breasts in Soft Things Made Hard, 2001, are ironical. Ambiguity is a constant of her art; every one of Quinn's objects is a double entendre, which is perhaps the gist of being "speculative." Her three-dimensional/two-dimensional Q-tip wall drawing-reliefs are exemplary in this respect. But ambiguity quickly becomes irony: instead of reconciling the terms, as though to reconcile the male and female in a "mystical" sexual event-the testicle-breast represents their momentary yet proverbially eternal oneness-Quinn uses each to cancel the other . . . . We are left with Quinn's expressionistic aesthetics, which [are] also ironical-teasing, one might say. Her objects seem to apotheosize Eros by aestheticizing it.

- from "Material Speculations," by Donald Kuspit. From Material Speculations: NCECA Invitational Exhibition 2002. Exhibition catalogue, Kansas City, H and R Block Artspace; catalogue published by the National Council on Education in the Ceramic Arts. pp. 26-27.