Studio Visit: Derrick Quevedo

Derrick Quevedo is an artist living and working in Baltimore, Maryland. Derrick’s work can be seen in PLEAT’s September exhibition as well as

Please describe your work.

For the past year, I’ve been drawing predominantly friends in Baltimore’s Asian American / Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. These have been observations of absorption during casual encounters and meetings.

I have also been addressing issues about race, mental health, and feminism through self-portraits which are much more direct and confront the viewer.

What internal and external factors motivate your conceptual choices?

The personal is political. I began therapy several years ago as the cultural climate of America began paying more attention to its social and political injustice. In dealing with the components of my own depression, anxiety, and panic disorder, I accepted I was facing identity issues both internally and externally. The pain, anger, and sadness inside is something I would not want others to deal with themselves and as time went on the color abstraction I had been practicing had transformed into observations of my life. Studio time had a new purpose.

Who are your artistic influences and what have you learned from them? 

I returned to a lot of visual influence from my youth, primarily indie comics and zines. I grew up reading Giant Robot, a magazine dedicated to Asian and Asian-American pop culture. I discovered many art movements and artists in Giant Robot, Including Adrian Tomine, Jaime Hernandez, and Raymond Pettibon.

I think because the Punk/DIY approach is so connected with my ideas of AAPI representation I continue to look at sites like Redbubble and Society6 where many artists design stickers addressing social activism and social issues. I sticker bomb all my sketchbooks.

I continue to be drawn towards many NY painters of a particular generation that seemed to have a “punk” period of stripped down, mostly black & white postmodernism, like David Reed, Joyce Pensato, and Christopher Wool. 

I also love Barkley Hendricks and Amy Sherald and look to their example of nonwhite figuration. 

How has social media affected your studio practice? 

Social media has offered me the opportunity to connect with other PilipinX and POC artists across the world who share similar themes and beliefs as me. In the transition from color abstraction to these drawings the alienation of the contemporary painting audience scared me, but it needed to happen. I found many PilipinX creatives establishing visual culture outside the gallery space, which exorcised the authority of the gallery system out of me. I felt free the moment I picked a pencil up with the same fervor as I had a paint brush with the intention of creating something for the most important audience I would ever work for; myself. Had I not been inspired by the community I’ve nurtured on Instagram I might still feel trapped in a colonized mindstate.