Student Artist Spotlight: Quinn Bender


Quinn Bender Photo credit: Matthew Claybrook

Photo by Matthew Claybrook

Senior art major Quinn Bender’s photography is abstract and experimental. And as of recently, it’s for sale. Bender’s was featured on ArtStartArt, a website dedicated to providing a platform for art students to sell their work. I sat down with her to find out more about this accomplishment and what she loves about photography.

How did you get into photography?

Quinn Bender: I always did it from when I was really young. I’d bring disposable cameras everywhere and take pictures with them all the time. I never got them developed for some reason, but it was the act of capturing an image that was really interesting to me.

How did you decide you wanted to be an art major?

Q: I kind of fought it for my first semester, but then I realized that this was my thing. There’s that stigma around it, and people believe that you can’t do anything or you won’t make any money. It just took time to realize that not everyone is going to agree with what I’m doing, and that’s kind of the point.

What do you like about photography as a medium?

Q: I like challenging the idea of what a photograph is, which is what I’ve been doing recently. I’ve been taking camera-less photos, where I just use an enlarger or developer or I’ve used a flashlight. I like that it’s representative of reality, but the way you go about it doesn’t really capture the way that people think reality is. It’s just so versatile.

How does photography help you express yourself?

Q: I struggle expressing myself verbally, and with photography, I can have this visual representation that I can show to people and get their reactions. I can almost use their words to help discuss how I’m feeling with other people while also getting their perspective. I think it’s even a teaching tool. I supply the image and other people supply the words and help me verbalize my thoughts.

What inspires you the most when you’re creating?

Q: It mostly just comes in waves. I’ve noticed that when I try to sit down and come up with ideas I get so stuck, so I just keep a notebook with me and if something pops in my head I’ll write it down really quickly. After I have that kind of basic idea, then I can sit down and expand upon it to make a concrete idea.

Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve created?

Q: Well, I did this piece based on something the artist Ann Hamilton did. She put a camera in her mouth and it didn’t have a closing over the aperture, so her mouth was the shutter. She had to find something she wanted to take a photo of, open her mouth and wait for it to develop. It was so interesting to me, so I wanted to try it. I ended up making my own camera out of a Nerds box and photo paper. I got some of my friends to stand in front of me and just stood there with my mouth open for around a minute. It was very strangely intimate and almost became an unintentional performance piece. The pictures didn’t come out that great, but I really enjoyed the whole process.

Can you tell me about the website your work is being featured on?

Q: It’s called ArtStartArt, and basically it’s a nationwide curated website for student artists. You can submit your work and a panel of judges decides if they want to feature your work. If you get selected, they help you set a price for your pieces and help get your work noticed by people in the community. I just submitted for the first time a month ago, and when I did they contacted me and asked if I wanted to be a featured artist. I had to write about myself and my work, and a few of my pieces were featured on their main page.

Recognition is just one part of an artist’s life, so much of it learning from one’s successes and mistakes. Bender’s journey to recognition is a testament to how by searching for ones own artistic voice, you can find it. Bender’s art can be purchased through Sept. 30 at