Love Letter to Pamela Weir-Quiton

Pieces of treated, in-progress wood are organized on a white table and marked in pencil. Behind those in the foreground are triangular pieces, those in the shapes of small houses, so on; and beyond that, glances of a studio space.
Photograph of Pamela Weir-Quiton’s studio. Courtesy of Tanya Ward Goodman.

Over these last months, my inability to know or control the future turned inward, and became a relentless creative self-inventory. Ideas: unrealized. Projects: unfinished. The harder I worked, the less progress I made. My words, like a fistful of feathers, lost all sense of lightness and grace.

The artist Pamela Weir-Quiton offers a gentle alternative: instead of countering disorientation, lean into it. 

“I’m finding my way using breadcrumbs I left for myself over the last fifty years,” she explained, during my masked visit to her spacious Northridge studio. 

Carefully arranged on more than a half-dozen tables were the scraps of a career that began in a woodworking class at Cal State Northridge and generated work recently installed in Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s permanent collection. Putting the “fun” in functional art, she spent decades turning out doll-shaped dressers, rocking animals, and a playground inspired by tiger tamer Mable Stark. “Say you’re cutting away that part that isn’t an angel,” she said,“that lost part is just as sacred as the angel.” 

In her current work, Weir-Quiton lets these wooden remnants inform her process. “Some things don’t show up until you stop looking.”

With nimble, turquoise tipped fingers, she placed a triangle shape atop a small cube, making a simple house. As if to counter the isolation of the last year, she quickly assembled a community.  

Later, when I return to my desk, I see how one good sentence might form a slim path to the next sentence. When the worries start, I hear Weir-Quiton’s voice.

“There’s only now. Are you okay right now?” She takes a breath. She laughs. “How about now?”