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Nerman Museum In Overland Park, KS catches another rising star: Lauren Quin


Lauren Quin’s (b. 1992, Los Angeles) credentials make her a strong bet as an emerging artist. Her undergraduate degree in fine arts comes from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, as do Georgia O’Keeffe, Joan Mitchell, and Jeff Koons. She spent time studying at the prestigious Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, as did Ellsworth Kelly, David Driskell, and Robert Indiana. She received her Master of Fine Art Degree from Yale School of Art in 2019, just like Eva Hesse, Dawoud Bey and Wangechi Mutu.

However, degrees are less important to an artist’s success than in most professions. An artist’s talent, or lack thereof, is instantly recognizable in the work he creates. Quin shines here too. Going against contemporary trends that favor figurative painting, Quin’s abstractions recall the genre’s abstract expressionist heyday.


Monumental – many almost 10 feet wide – vibrant, buzzing, enigmatic, intricate and expansive canvases attract spectators. Their impact lends itself to such overwrought language.

“A passageway or network between dimensions that generate sensuality and movement. (Quin’s paintings) reveal a smooth line between fetish and filth, blood and marrow, purity and perversion,” according to her gallery.

Find out for yourself at her first institutional solo show in the United States at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, KS.

Lauren Quin ‘Tubes’

The exhibition puts the public in front of Quin’s soon to be iconic ‘tube’ paintings. Her work has recently been acquired by the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, the ICA Miami and the Pérez Art Museum in Miami. the Phoenix Art Museum and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.


“I call it a tube, but it’s really just a puffy line — a thick line,” Quin told

After preparing a gallery show that opened the weekend the COVID shutdowns began, the artist was sent back to the studio where her work transformed during the isolation.

“The real change is I’ve taken that thick line and made it thicker,” she said. “I blew it up and widened each type of mark, made it bigger, and in doing so it changed the space of the painting.”

She adapted to the new ways people viewed art during the pandemic: digital, in miniature.

“Before the shutdown I was cutting into very thin drawings with an X-acto knife and you really couldn’t see them on a screen, they were very intimate and personal and when my work was mainly shown online during the shutdown and pandemic … much detail was lost; these are huge paintings and you can’t see hair-like engravings,” explains Quin. “I started cutting with a spoon and drawing with a spoon instead and in doing so I also made the paint I was cutting into bigger and instead of a tube it became a tunnel.”


The meaning of these tubes, where they come from, what they represent, remains fluid. For a recent show in Shanghai: “I really thought of the tube as an artery and several cuts of the body showing the body cut vertically and spread open – not necessarily in a grotesque way, but in a way that is conscious of the microscopic capabilities of the body.”

Abstractions, sure, but Quin is not interested in a purist who pursues abstraction for abstraction’s sake.


“There are bodies and parts in my paintings,” she said. “At any given moment, I take from my natural world and digest it and put it into the painting.”



‘My Hellmouth’

Quin has titled her exhibition ‘My Hellmouth’. Where does that come from?

“If we were to talk about tubes, it would be this huge esophagus. It’s the tunnel or the abyss or the sinkhole,” she explains. “It’s also this idea of ​​hell. I have called it a cantilever, the enormous weight that supports other parts of one’s desire. I’m always looking for inversions and turning a problem on its head, so I think ‘My Hellmouth’ is about the low point within that logic. I also feel like I’m connected to sound and to the throat and someone’s voice, so ‘Hellmouth’ is also a reference to that.”

Hell never looked so good, but for all the undeniable beauty of Quin’s paintings, they also swirl and throb. A sharp duality. Their energy and color palette contribute to sensations approaching fear.


“It’s very red; there’s a lot of heat involved and a lot of competition,” Quin said. “I’m interested in cases of iridescence, this supernatural quality of color that only appears in a glimpse because it’s based on movement. Iridescence is something microscopic green on one side and red on the other, but you can’t see both green and red, so you see it flickering and moving and sliding away. I’m interested in trying to capture that quality in what constitutes a still form.”

When “My Hellmouth” began to emerge, Quin asked another LA-based writer and artist – and friend – Juliana Halpert to describe the work. Halpert insightfully captures the multiplicity and contrasts in an essay published on the webpage of the “My Hellmouth” exhibition. It describes in part how the paintings represent “the infinitesimal as well as the infinite, the microscopic and the monumental… glowing, swirling canvases, implying an inferno of activity, things gobbled up and spat out again… jewel-colored blizzards of brushing, scraping, drawing and print, all piled on top of each other, flowing and splashing through a system of her own invention, speaking of an overabundance of feminine energy, exploding and imploding before our very eyes.

Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art


Located on the outskirts of Kansas City across the state line, Overland Park doesn’t seem like a natural setting for a revolutionary contemporary art museum. Even more against the odds, the Nerman Johnson County Community College calls home. Opened in 2007, the museum has gained international recognition in an instant for its architecture, exhibits, educational programming, and collection.

A collection that, from its inception and origins in 1980, consciously emphasized contemporary art. A collection that further narrowed the focus to acquiring work from Native American, African American, and women artists long before this happened was in vogue.

With a modest annual budget for acquisitions, the Nerman sought to capture key artists early in their careers, such as Kerry James Marshall. De Nerman owns a painting by this essential American artist that would be a highlight at the Art Institute of Chicago, or MoMA. It purchased the painting from a 1995 exhibition for $12,000, nearly exhausting its purchase budget that year. The painting was recently appraised for 25.



De Nerman bought a Kehinde Whiley painting from his apartment long before he painted the portrait of Barak Obama. A sharp eye and clever finds have enabled the Nerman to build a contemporary collection of 2,000 pieces that can be compared to anything found on campus in the Ivy League or Big 10.

“My Hellmouth” is free and open to the public through June 18, 2023. The Nerman will host an artist talk and reception with Quin on March 2, 2023 at 6:00 PM. Space is limited and RSVP to participate is required.