Get personal: Qiana Mestrich mines her own identity for art. May 12 2018
Qiana Mestrich's work recently appeared in MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora.
If you’re in the market for some motivation, Qiana Mestrich might inspire your inner mover and shaker. Wowing collectors with her debut 20x200 edition is just a blip of what she’s been up to. For a taste: this past November, Mestrich’s art was featured in the debut issue of MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora, a captivating collection of work by one hundred black women photographers of all ages and origins. Around that same time, she also participated in Relative Material, a group show curated by Janna Dyk at Brooklyn’s Nurture Art that ran through mid-December. Her installation incorporated photography, poetry, and ephemera from her Hard To Place series, collectively exploring questions of motherhood, race, identity and more. Mestrich does not shy away from complexity—in fact, it powers her process.
More recently, her The Black Doll Series stunned at London Art Fair 2018’s Photo50 exhibition, Resolution is not the point, alongside a handful of other innovative artists in the contemporary art and photographic spheres. The Black Doll Series is the same body of work from which Mestrich’s limited-edition 20x200 print—OOAK Vintage Black Francie Doll 2—originates. Read our introduction to this incredible piece on the blog, then pop over to Photoworks for extra credit.
Mestrich's The Black Doll series was exhibited in the London Art Fair 2018 as part of Photo50's exhibition Resolution is not the point.
Something you’d probably never guess unless you’re a textile buff: Mestrich was actually named after a popular, silky Nylon fabric developed by DuPont in 1962 called “Qiana”. (Peep this nifty Qiana Pinterest board she put together). Two of the series pictured on her site explore the meaning of her name. In Namesake, she uses intentionally blurred, re-photographed web-resolution mugshots of predominantly Black and Latinx women named “Qiana” to highlight the ways in which racial profiling, mass incarceration, and other interrelated forces of oppression have shaped this peer group. In Inherited Patterns, she uses photo collages to combine mug shots with fashion marketing materials she uncovered in the DuPont archives, connecting and reconfiguring two disparate worlds of imagery.
This installation shot of Mestrich's Hard to Place series at Nurture Art in Brooklyn as part of the Relative Material group show gives a sense of the artist's use of skin tone colors.
This highly considered, photo-based recontextualization is one of Mestrich’s strong suits. She is especially adept at employing the power of insinuation. For instance, Mestrich often returns to the concept of a “skin color continuum”, building in references to skin tone in the form of object elements, wall color, or framing choices. She draws from her personal experience as an individual of mixed heritage, calling colorism and racism into question as she plays on implication. One of the projects she’s currently working on (Mestrich is a true multi-tasker, always engaged in multiple artworks at a time) tackles literal and metaphorical forms of “whiteness”.
When she's not art-making, Mestrich is a published author whose critical writing on photography has appeared in numerous journals, a digital marketing specialist, and a full-time mom to Winston and Imogen (named after renowned photographer Imogen Cunningham, of course). She recently juried the 2018 Light Work Grants, provided by one of the longest-running photography fellowship programs in the country, supporting Central New York artists working in the medium of photography. Born and bred in NYC to immigrant parents from Panama and Croatia, she’s a New Yorker through and through and will be joining FIT’s photography department as adjunct faculty this fall ... (can we audit a class?)
Step inside Mestrich's art studio.
For the non-East Coasters out there: if you’ll be in the New Orleans area this July, you can catch Mestrich’s weekend workshop at the Joan Mitchell Center, where she’s been involved in artist development. And no matter where you’re based, you can get in on a little of Mestrich’s magic when you collect her edition—might as well make that yours asap.
With art for everyone,
Jen Bekman + Team 20x200
OOAK Vintage Black Francie Doll 2 by Qiana Mestrich