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Meet Dominic Quagliozzi

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dominic Quagliozzi.

Dominic, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am a visual artist working primarily in painting, performance art, video and digital. The work I make presents themes of chronic illness, organ transplantation, disability and patient experience- all coming from my lived experience with Cystic Fibrosis and receiving a double lung transplant (2015). In addition to making art, I am a patient advocate, speaking to medical students about patienthood, and using art as a tool for healing with youth dealing with chronic pain.

Has it been a smooth road?
The starts and stops of needing to get treatment for Cystic Fibrosis and transplant complications has made it hard to be consistently in the studio making new work. I had to evolve my art practice to accommodate being in and out of the hospital. Using my hospital room as a surrogate studio.

But I use those challenges in my work- especially when I do lectures or workshops with medical students. Showing the balance it takes to keep continuity in my life, with my partner and now, recently with the birth of my son. Even when my health is down, I have responsibilities and I try to reflect that in the new work I make.

In 2019, I made Suit, which is a business suit made out of hospital gowns I had worn during some time spent inpatient. I wear Suit to speaking engagements with medical professionals and art lectures- it signifies how fluid I need to be between my patient life and my person life- that there really is no difference.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I think its really important for patients to have a greater voice, especially as things like healthcare, disability rights, drug costs and now with Covid-19, so many factors are challenging the chronically ill and disabled community. It seems like we are always having to prove our worth or show that we matter- when it reality, we are enough, as is.

A lot of the work I make speaks to those types of issues. Using materials from my hospital stays, like the gowns and nitrile gloves, and masks (before COVID), I wanted to present my reality. These are the materials of my life- it just so happened that COVID has now made those materials much more universal.

My work Flag (Medicare For All) is a six foot long American flag made from sewn hospital gowns that I think really captures the moment, the dire need for universal healthcare in this country. And it was made in late 2019, before the COVID crisis.

I also explore these themes of agency, person/patienthood, and privacy in my performances. In preparation for my double lung transplant, I wanted to share a psychic performance and meditation with a larger audience with Medical History, Part II (2014). By channeling the spirits of how I would be transformed both emotionally and physically by this life-continuing gift of an organ donation, I enlisted a Hollywood Special Effects artist to create the future clamshell lung transplant scar on my body.

In performances such as Urban Light IV Pole (2012) and Vest Sessions (2013), I played with issues of patient agency and public vs. private patience experience. For these performances, I took my routine treatments and conducted them in very public spaces where these acts would not normally occur. Urban Light IV Pole consisted of hanging an antibiotic IV on Chris Burden’s iconic LACMA sculpture, Urban Light (2008). By using the one of the decommissioned light posts as an IV pole, I administered myself a thirty-minute antibiotic infusion. Vest Sessions took my four times daily regime of airway clearance and nebulizer treatments to the sidewalks of Chinatown. I stationed myself in various locations throughout Chinatown, and each treatment was on display for both the local neighbors and those visiting the iconic landmark.

I have shown my work across the United States in Los Angeles, New York, Boston and internationally in the UK, Denmark and Australia.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles is an amazing art city. There is an idea and access to materials for pretty much everything you could ever want. I like to say its also a great place to be sick, which is probably a weird concept for a lot of people to hear. The weather, proximity to the ocean, desert and artistic enclaves are all very healing.

There are also a lot of great medical schools and hospitals in Southern California, many groundbreaking ideas coming out of those places. I feel a lot of value to be able to speak to those students about empathy and human connection, something that doesn’t just cater to technological or medical advancements.

As far as the institutions of art, LA is an international city but does afford many local communities voices too. There is a very dynamic energy and you can tell the people here are hungry for it.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Lever Rukhin- vest photo in Chinatown, Evans Vestal Ward- scar performance (with shirt off) in gallery, Colin Stafford- LACMA Urban Lights performance

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