Shawn Quinlan knows the value of a good story. By day, he is a video editor at a television station, with all of the attendant stress that comes with the job. Workdays filled with creating compelling narratives out of gunshot victims, car accidents, and human tragedy takes its toll. Fortunately, craft stepped into the breach. The gift of a sewing machine in the early 90's turned into a "eureka" moment that helped Quinlan tie all of the loose threads of his interests and talents into one handy package. In addition to serving as a stress reliever, Shawn's story (not to mention his crazy-great quilts) has garnered attention from exhibitions, newspapers, and television shows across the country.
Quinlan's work is methodically crafted, with attention to detail that allows him to confidently show in quilt shows (My mother is a quilter--I've seen how merciless they can be). His raw material is taken from wall hangings and oddball commercial fabrics--not just from the piles of fat quarters and skeins of cow fabric that everybody uses. There is an archaeological quality to his work that is immensely appealing. Recently, the fine art world has started to pay attention, bringing him solo shows as well as a couple of group shows at the Andy Warhol Museum in his hometown of Pittsburgh.
There is also an improvisational quality at work in his quilts--something only rarely seen in a scene that is obsessed with order and pattern. This is underscored by a video that Quinlan keeps on his MySpace site of him piecing a quilt in stop motion. Boys will be boys, and Shawn Quinlan fills his work with his unique sensibility, then sends it out into the world to influence others.