‘In Flux’ artist Quia Z. Atkinson goes with the flow
For Quia Z. Atkinson, artist and owner of the QZ Design Gallery, Tallahassee is home.
As she goes from station to station in her garage converted into an art studio, she takes pleasure in pouring acrylics and technicolor liquid resins on her canvas. The flow of paint redirected across the smooth, shiny surfaces resembles the fluidity Atkinson felt when moving around as a child.
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Both of her parents served in the US Marines, meaning Atkinson grew up calling Virginia, South Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Norway home for a time.
His paintings in the “In Flux” exhibition at the Artport gallery reflect this nomadic education through the experimental and fluid techniques of the work.
“Moving taught me resilience as a kid,” says Atkinson. “You have to be able to adapt and meet new friends quickly. It also opens you up to different cultures, people and ways of life, and I appreciate that. I think it shows in my art.
Of the many states and countries in which Atkinson lived, Rabat, Morocco, was by far his favorite. She can vividly remember the vibrancy of Moroccan culture, from shopping in markets filled with rich spices, meats, scarves adorned with jewelry and fabrics, to admiring the intricate lattices and basket weaving made by the women of the city.
Refine a “signature” look
While in school, Atkinson had the chance to deepen her understanding of the sculptural arts and did three-dimensional pottery and crafts. Moroccan design still permeates his home today with its bright colors and geometric patterns. When Atkinson began her artistic journey seven years ago, she found herself returning to the same images and memories she had created when she lived in the Moroccan capital.
“It took me a long time to find my signature look, but I finally feel like people can look at my work and recognize it as mine,” says Atkinson. “Every time I do something I haven’t done before I research and go through a series of trial and error. I welcome these challenges because it makes me better as an artist and opens my brain to creating something new.
Atkinson has found art mentors online by watching video tutorials or messaging artists on social media with questions about their work. At the top of her list is German artist Stephanie Walberer, known as MRS. COLORBERRY. Atkinson is inspired by the color and three-dimensional embellishments of Walberer’s large-scale geode works.
Almost all of the pieces in the Artport exhibit feature resin, crystals, glass, stones and colors. His most embellished piece is the 5 x 4 foot “Kaleidoscope”, made up of a dozen groups of geodes. Atkinson says she worked on the paint six hours a day for two weeks.
Color and crystals
“I wanted to make a piece that gives a sample of all kinds of color combinations,” says Atkinson. “I wanted it to look like several paintings in one painting. You can watch it ten times and see something different each time you walk past. ”
Atkinson says that to create a part that looks like geodes, you need multiple layers. For “Kaleidoscope,” she painted each section by hand, then came back with layers of metallic pen and paint to create fine lines before adding glass and crystals. Each crystal has been individually placed to give shape to the signature clusters.
“I threw the whole kitchen sink on this canvas,” laughs Atkinson.
In stark contrast to his brighter works, there are a few minimalist black and white pieces like “Monochrome Fantasy”. For these works, Atkinson used fluid acrylic and a hair dryer to push the colors into a pattern that she found aesthetically pleasing. Then she added fine lines in gold detail to make the edges stand out.
Acrylic and resin
Atkinson says fluid acrylic is not as forgiving as resin, although resin has its own fickle tendencies if not mixed properly or kept at the right temperature. However, when working with resin, Atkinson says she can always add another coat to cover imperfections. Like a fingerprint, fluid acrylic works cannot be recreated or redirected in the same way.
“Sometimes it’s more difficult to make a fluid acrylic paint because you can’t cover it with glass or resin,” says Atkinson. “These have to be done right the first time. When it comes out perfectly, it’s a rewarding feeling.
Atkinson found an equally satisfying feeling sharing his process via video tutorials on his website, as well as opening his home for art classes.
She loves watching clients release the stress from their day as they create their unique masterpieces. Atkinson has found teaching therapeutic and hopes his works at the Artport Gallery will give visitors entering and leaving the city a similar feeling.
“I want people to be able to look at a painting and understand what it is,” says Atkinson. “Some people might say that a painting looks like a lake, a view from space, or a topographic map. I want this to be an uplifting experience for anyone who walks past. Each painting is a story in itself.
Amanda Sieradzki is the feature film writer for the Council on Culture & Arts. COCA is the Capital Region’s umbrella agency for arts and culture (www.tallahasseearts.org).
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If you are going to
What: In Flux, Works by Quia Z. Atkinson
When: 8 am-11:30pm, every day until November 8
Or: Galerie Artport, 3300 Capital Circle SW
Cost: Free and open to the public
Contact: For more information, call 850-224-2500 or visit coca.tallahasseearts.org. To view a digital version of this exhibit, visit COCA’s online gallery at cocaonlinegallery.zenfolio.com.