Stefani Quam – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Qualia Archetype #1

“Qualia Archetype #1,” Charcoal on paper, 6″x6″, 2013

Briefly describe the work that you do.

My work highlights the shape of the circle. For me, the circle symbolizes the process, pattern, routine, cycles reoccurring in nature and the lived experience. I utilize the circle in a variety of media – varying the process, the pattern, while the shape remains true to itself. But within the process of each work, lies an element of chance. The placement of every circle is not planned out. The final product is often discovered through its creation.

At what point in your life did you decide to become an artist?

I was twelve when I started challenging myself with drawing still lifes just for fun. Then I got a book that “taught you how to draw” which I quickly mastered and it just sort of steam rolled from there.

Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.

My work, like many artists’ is an effort to try and make sense of the world as I know it. I’ve always been a big fan of having a plan. I like to be prepared. I like to anticipate what is going to happen and be ready to make decisions accordingly. So when there seemed no rhyme, reason, or logic behind events and patterns occurring within my life, I had to go back to the drawing board. Literally. Every day, I have to come to terms with the lack of control I have over chance.

My work provides me with the opportunity to control the majority of variables within a project, while allowing raw chance to take its course simultaneously…. a self-constructed simulation if you will.

Silhouette #1

“Silhouette #1,” Paper embossing, 22″x30″, 2013

What types of conceptual concerns are present in your work? How do those relate to the specific process(es) or media you use?

Perception. We as humans bring our personal experience to every new experience as a means of understanding. Furthermore, our personal experience is made up of what we remember. Hence, our perception of “reality” is unique unto ourselves. Somehow though, we find empathy for one another in the narratives we tell about our reality.

The result of my work has no representational or narrative references, leaving the viewer’s perception open to interpretation.

We once heard Chuck Close say he did not believe in being inspired, rather in working hard everyday. What motivates you in your studio practice?

I talk a lot about being a by-product of my generation. I grew up in the 90’s, will forever remember 9/11, live with the repercussions of a war that still doesn’t feel like it has ended, get to see the first African American to become President, only to watch the market crash right before entering the working world, and the Tea Party do everything possible to preserve the legacy of Milton Friedman.


“Ellipses,” 100 small graphite drawings, 42″x42″, 2013

I am a peon on this planet, with far fewer problems than many, but I have to find my way and my voice in the world I live in. My studio is my safe place; my laboratory for figuring out how to do that.

What artists living or non-living influence your work?
William Kentridge
Anne Hamilton
Tara Donovan
Jacob Hashimoto

When you are not making art what types of activities and interests do you engage in? 

West Coast Swing Dance
Snuggling my Cocker Spaniel, Junior
Eating at delicious independent restaurants
Traveling as much as possible


HeadshotAs a graduate of Syracuse University’s School of Visual and Performing Arts’ Transmedia Department, Stefani’s concentration has been audio/visual production, including the history of time-based media formats, their social/political influence, and the psychology behind their consumption. With the exponential growth of technology, so changes the face of contemporary craft: New technology is now being incorporated into, or used in conjunction with, craft and art practices. As an inter-disciplinary artist with formal training in both digital and fine arts, making the leap to combine media using installation is the next target for her practice.


All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission. 


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