A portrait of the artist

From staff reports

Quinn Faylor, a queer, multi-disciplinary artist, was born and raised in Petoskey and currently lives and works in Detroit. A 2016 graduate of the University of Michigan with a BA in Arts and Ideas in the Humanities, Faylor was an artist in resident at the Glen Arbor Arts Center earlier this month. Since June is Pride Month, the Sun spoke to Faylor, who identifies as non-binary, about the residency, about their muse and artistic inspiration, and about queer artists, tolerance and understanding, and coming out.

Glen Arbor Sun: How was your time in Glen Arbor? What were the highlights or memorable parts of it?

Quinn Faylor: I enjoyed the residency. The highlight was the studio space at Thoreson Farm. It was beautiful, open and pastoral. It was incredible to have that much space, emotionally and physically. I was largely alone each day. I haven’t had that experience since pre-pandemic. I think natural spaces do an incredible job of holding a mirror up to our moods. It was interesting and cathartic to notice what arose on any given day while in process.

I left the barn doors wide open and kept my binoculars at my side. Each day was broken up by some casual birding.  I went on many walks and shot a few rolls of film that I am excited to use as reference material moving forward.

Sun: Tell us about your muse and inspiration for your current work. How was that shaped by being in the Sleeping Bear Dunes? And since you currently live in Detroit, how do those two vastly different settings inspire your art in different ways?

Faylor: My work serves as a curious reflection of and invitation into the environment around me. My practice is a meditation on what is growing, in my physical environment and inside myself. I am curious about what moves us and how we heal. I’m curious about how things grow, what’s out there and how we relate to it. I’m deeply inspired by all the shapes, textures and colors that are already here breathing.

My experience of nature and creativity go hand in hand. They both kindle a sense of connection and provide space for reflection. There is a special sort of wonder I find when I’m outside, and it has me curious.

I think natural spaces foster our relationship to a sense of place as home. A tree, a field, really any small moment of nature may ground us if we are able to notice it as it changes. These shifts are subtle and constant. This sense of returning to a space, or having a natural thing parallel you as you both move through the seasons feels soft and vulnerable. I have experienced this growing up in Northern Michigan. I have also experienced this in Detroit. Belle Isle has become my home away from homes. Last night, I walked there for the first time in weeks and it elicited a sort of lucid vulnerability. Things have grown out. The isle was lush, the cottonwood’s fluff was drifting in the air, like last year, like the year before. It brought me back to something—maybe many somethings. Sometimes I smell the earth and in my body I feel a memory that I can quite place. This is an attempt to put something into words that I don’t quite understand, but can certainly feel.

Sun: Does your sexuality play a role or express itself in your art?

Faylor: A finished piece can be a beautiful thing, but I create because of what I can cultivate and experience while in process. In my creative practice, I realize a safe space free of constraints. I am able to let what feels good guide me. My practice of making is a practice of tuning in, of maintaining curiosity about myself, the medium, and the subject matter. Making is exploratory. Things don’t feel definitive. In this way, I can embody a sense of abundance and joy. I conceptualize a lot of my work as a celebration. My color choices are vibrant. My shapes carry motion.

Certainly some of what I’ve made has spoken directly to my healing, my sexuality, and my gender expression. Though regardless of my work’s subject matter, through my practice I am learning to trust myself; I am learning to give myself grace; I am cultivating my own resilience and finding a home in my own body.

Sun: What role do you think queer artists or who are part of the lgbtqia+ community play in promoting tolerance and understanding?

Faylor: The queer artists that I most admire are unabashedly and wholly themselves. Even in the face of adversity. They are changing the landscape by simply existing at the intersection of their identity, by celebrating themself and their community, by speaking on their experience and leaning into what they love. This visibility activates space. It lends the viewer an abundance of possibility.  Representation matters. Each individual’s queerness is unique. It is found through different trials and different timelines. The more nuanced representation we have, the easier it will be for folks to find themselves in this world.

Sun: Any messages you have for young people who are coming out?

Faylor: Coming out can take time, be gentle with yourself. It is a process; a soft resilient unraveling of all the things that were given to you but are not yours. It is beautiful to exist in all your nuances, to live in ways that feel whole. You are not defined by any one thing. You can cultivate and find spaces that want to hold you as you move through and into your own becoming.