Over the last few years, Chicago-born artist Christina Quarles has been the talk of the art world. She creates paintings in unexpected colors, distorted torsos and limbs weaving, dreamlike, in and out of one another. Quarles’s work explores contradictions within universal themes of identity, appearance, and perspective.

I speak to Quarles, 36, on a Zoom call, she from her home, in Altadena, California, where she lives with her wife. Quarles’s stunning paintings hang behind her, but she’s modest about how she got to where she is.