By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt
|Iana on her 30-foot-long Tijuana-themed graphite-on-paper tablecloth, actually used at the reception for her 2008 show at CECUT. Each plate represents one of TJ’s historic sites. “Research and mapping are my tools of conquest,” she said. Maurice Hewitt|
All this — and more — was part of a 15-year hiatus between a BFA at Tampa University in 1991 and acceptance into the MFA program at UC San Diego, from which she graduated in 2008.
|Exterior of the Tijuana house where Quesnell lived. Maurice Hewitt|
Best known for her large-scale, microscopically-detailed pencil drawings of things like neighborhoods she’s lived in, the American flag, and her grandmother’s tablecloth, she has been part of major exhibitions at Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla; San Diego Museum of Art; and Tijuana’s CECUT. Besides drawing, she has a background in painting and sculpture and is now experimenting with animation. A 2006 San Diego Art Prize-winner, she also won MCASD’s coveted CERCA award in 2007, which included a solo show and the $10,000 purchase of one of her drawings, after museum director Hugh Davies saw her work at UCSD Open Studios Day.
“Everything I do is about what I own and the spaces I occupy,” Quesnell said. “It’s all a process of self-discovery. I learn about myself, and the ideas transcend the personal.”
After living in Tijuana for seven years, travelling back and forth to jobs on this side of the border, she now has a small studio in Encinitas, in a large art-space called The Artist Odyssey (TAO). Inside the studio, where she uses the floor as a drawing-board, is her bicycle, good for exercise and local mobility; outside, there’s a motorcycle, for longer-range distances, and a Hyundai SUV, her current live-in vehicle, a recent upgrade from the worn-out old Dodge.
|Tijuana house, interior Maurice Hewitt|
“Every single inch is a drawing in itself,” said Quesnell, whose tiny pencil strokes give extraordinary texture to her pieces. “That’s what makes a good piece for me — I can just get lost in every inch of it. And the only way to do that is spend hours and hours doing it. When I’m showing my work, I’m really showing my time.”
She has taught art at USD, UCSD and Cal State San Marcos, and is currently an adjunct professor at Mira Costa College. Earlier this year, she started offering free, pop-up drawing classes, open to all ages, on local beaches.
|Tablecloth detail Maurice Hewitt|
“I love teaching, I love watching students evolve from feeling they can’t do anything to a feeling of confidence that makes them light up, but it’s difficult to wait each semester to find out if I’ll be teaching the following semester,” she said. “The pop-up school is a way for me to have a sense of ownership and control over my teaching and offer the artist and the community direct access to each other.”
Free drawing classes for all ages: 2 p.m. until sunset Aug. 7, 14, 21, 28 Meet at La Jolla Shores, on the beach, in front of the showers. (Look for the orange buckets.) All drawing materials provided. Bring your own beach supplies: water, snacks, sunscreen, chair, shade, etc. Register in advance for each class: IanaQuesnell@hotmail.com