The Curator

The Curator

Quia Atkinson’s Tallahassee Gallery is Inspired by Travel

Words by Christiana Roussel

As an artist working in a variety of media—glass, resin, acrylics—Quia Atkinson’s design work is informed by a lifetime of travel but very much rooted in her chosen home of Tallahassee, Florida. 

Growing up as the peripatetic child of two Marines, Atkinson has lived all over the world, including stints in Morocco and Norway. Change was a constant theme in her childhood where just fifth grade saw her attending three elementary schools. It was not until she landed a full scholarship to Florida A&M University in Tallahassee that she began to put down roots. “I have degrees in healthcare management and military science but was always interested in the arts.” Some major life transitions for her inspired her to activate her artistic side and really tap into this creative process. “I realized that I had always been painting for myself but this life change made me start anew. That was actually when I started my design gallery.” Seven years later, she is producing commissioned pieces from her home studio and shows there as well. But honestly, her work can be seen all over town, in venues large and small, prompting her to remark, “Tallahassee is my gallery.” 

While she may have strong ties to the north Florida city she calls home, that wanderlust spirit from being a military brat still takes hold from time to time, spurring Quia to once again take to the road, this time with her husband and three children in tow. While her teenagers rebel at the carry-on-only rule she imposes, the destinations are always worth the well-edited packing lists. Most itineraries are sketched out in advance—reservations and some ticketed events secured—but the rest is fluid, with plenty of time to explore and connect artistically with the destination. The one souvenir Quia always brings home from a trip is inspiration for new art. 

Travel with Quia

Q: Favorite city to visit?

A: “My favorite city for galleries is New Orleans. I enjoy meeting artists and gallery owners and sharing ideas. I am constantly amazed at their willingness to be open about how they do things—from running their businesses to staying inspired artistically. I always come home inspired by the process.”

Q: You grew up traveling the world. Staying put in Tallahassee means your kids’ childhoods are very different from your own. Can you tell us about that perspective?

A: Oh my gosh, so different! They always say “Mom, you had such an exciting childhood. Ours is so boring!” But the flip side is that they have stability. I tell them, “When you leave this house (after high school and college) you can go anywhere and move as many times as you want.”  I definitely feel that there are pros and cons to both ways of growing up.

Q: What are your must-have travel essentials?

A: OK, I have to be honest—the first thing is my makeup. I need my little makeup kit and I won’t leave home without that! After that, I need a pair of very comfortable walking shoes. I’ll never forget being in New York one time and I wore the wrong shoes one day. I just wanted my family to carry me! After that, I look to pack multipurpose clothes—things that can be worn day or evening and worn more than once. And carry-on bags are the only way to go! My family knows we are not checking luggage.

Check out Quia’s work at