MEG COX THE WALL STREET JOURNAL WRITES- May 23,2009.
One exhibit that’s worth a special trip is Quilt National, a biennial juried exhibition in Athens, Ohio, that’s considered the premiere art-quilt showcase. This year’s crop seems especially accomplished, diverse and powerful. Some quilts are breathtaking re-imaginings of familiar designs; others are political statements. Edgy protest pieces are a staple of art quilt circles, and there are several at this show, including Shawn Quinlan’s “God Bless America,” which pictures Jesus in a sport coat pointing to a flag pin on his lapel, a reference to criticism of President Barack Obama for not wearing one. Mr. Quinlan’s work has attracted controversy in the past: Earlier this spring, his quilt “Jesus Get Your Gun” was one of the quilts featured in an issue of the magazine Mark Lipinski’s Quilter’s Home that Jo-Ann Fabrics banned from its stores. Show rules require entries to be fabric or “fabric-like material,” composed of two complete layers held together by stitching. Of the 87 quilts showing this year, 13 are from outside the U.S. “Our instructions were to choose the work that just grabbed us,” says quilt artist Sue Benner, who with two other artist-jurors sorted through 1,000 submissions. For anybody who still thinks the phrase “quilt art” is an oxymoron, this show punches back with a resounding “hell, no.”
MARY THOMAS PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE WRITES- September 17,2009.
Associated Artists of Pittsburgh's 99th annual exhibition is one for the books. Juror Doryun Chong, assistant curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, selected 102 works by 74 artists from 516 entries by 277 artists.In his juror's statement, he writes, "I like to think that my aesthetics is not doctrinaire but rather pliable so that it is easily intrigued, swayed and reshaped." It's refreshing to find such a prestigious contemporary curator open to a true diversity of expression. Fiber artists admirably surpass log cabin patterns, commenting on national politics (Penny Mateer's outraged "Damn Good Whacking #5 Protest Series"), community (Kitty Spangler's optimistic "Pittsburgh Neighborhoods, Tied Together") and culture (Shawn Quinlan's incendiary "No Escape"). It is its heritage that most contributes to AAP's strength. As the organization gears up for its centennial exhibition next year, it's important that it continues to weave its history into its future.
KURT SHAW PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW WRITES- February 11,2007. Symbols also are fodder for quilt maker Shawn Quinlan. Most days, Quinlan is bombarded with images related to news, media and popular culture -- he works for WTAE as a video editor. So it's no wonder that the use of multitudinous imagery forms the basis of his art practice. But instead of mining the media, Quinlan turns to thrift stores, flea markets, eBay and the aisles of Wal-Mart to find the bits and pieces of fabric that he uses to compose his fantastic quilts. "I'm looking at (news-related) images all day, so when I go home I make these to release my frustration," Quinlan says of his wild and sometimes-wacky quilts that feature everything from Jesus to John Wayne. A dozen of them make up his appropriately titled exhibition "Blanket Statement." Quilts such as "The Almighty Dollar #2," in which Jesus can be seen preaching to the flock amid a massive $100 bill that Quinlan used as a backdrop, are for the most part quintessential examples of the artist's collage-like technique. Quinlan says Jesus came from a wall hanging he found in a thrift store, and the giant piece of currency was in the form of a body pillow shaped like a $100 bill he found at a Wal-Mart. And what about the fighter jets that loom in the sky above? They were clipped from a set of 1960s drapes that presumably once hung in a little boy's bedroom. Not all of Quinlan's quilts are as sardonic. "Gramps," for example, is a memorial to his grandfather. Basically a Southwestern scene, the
quilt is filled with locomotives, cowboys and Indians. "These are all things that remind me of him," Quinlan says, pointing in particular to a belt-buckle design prominently placed in the middle of the piece
that is exactly like the one his grandfather used to wear.
KURT SHAW PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW WRITES- December 24, 2006. The works on the third floor are just as engaging with renowned quilter Shawn Quinlan's installation in one corner, comprised of 16 small politically charged quilts that surround a child's bed, complete with bedspread that features a little girl putting out a fire with a watering can.
MARY THOMAS PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE WRITES-June 1, 2005. “Gender issues also figure into Shawn Quinlan's fiber "Creepy Cake: Fear Quilt Series," which garnered two prizes including the Carnegie Museum of Art Purchase Award. Quinlan's star has been rising meteorically in recent years, and the recognition is well deserved. He also exhibits "Jesus Get Your Gun," which some viewers may find offensive.”
CLARKE BUSTARD TIMES-DISPATCH- RICHMOND, VIRGINIA WRITES-January 5, 2006.
“If quilts make you think of a snug bed on a cold night at grandma's house, "Take Cover," an exhibit of quilts opening tomorrow at Quirk gallery, could be a wake-up call. Maybe even a rude awakening. "Funny thing," says Shawn Quinlan, a Pittsburgh quilter with three pieces in the show. "Look through an art magazine or catalog today. The paintings look more like quilts, and the quilts look more like paintings. Is that a trend?" Quinlan, who has "dabbled in all types of art," got hooked on quilting about 10 years ago. "I was in a store," he recalls, "and I saw a quilt with these 1950s motifs. Someone gave me an old sewing machine, and soon quilting was my medium. "It's therapeutic to work with hands and cloth". Quinlan is one of several quilters in the show with an eye for provocative topical imagery. The topic of the three works he will display could be summarized in an equation: religion + money = hypocrisy.
MARY THOMAS, POST-GAZETTE WRITES-March 13, 2005. “Running concurrently with "Man-Made" is a provocative solo exhibition by Pittsburgh artist Shawn Quinlan, who also was included in the national traveling show. The artist has gained local and national recognition with his hotly political works constructed of dense compositions of appropriated imagery -- often found fiber or media images photo transferred onto fiber -- overlain with intensely patterned quilting. For example, "What Would Jesus Drive?," exhibited here and in the 2003 Associated Artists of Pittsburgh Annual, sites the infant Jesus at the wheel of a tractor surrounded by a spiral of vehicles. "Who Would Jesus Bomb?" and "The Almighty Dollar" both use as a point of departure a rug-sized, faux-velvet painting image of Jesus, the head replaced by a bar code in the latter. Of 16 fiber works made between 1997 and last year, the earliest is "You Made the Indian Cry," a Last Supper scene compromised by the likes of Coffee-mate, TV dinners and a Campbell soup can on the table; a star-studded universe polluted with spacemen and highway route markers; hazmat-uniformed beings; and nuclear mushroom clouds, one of which surrounds a man's eyes welling with tears. In contrast to Quinlan's in-your-face art, his Paducah entry, "Palm Tree Quilt," commissioned by a California cousin and inspired by a visit there, is a landscape, though atypical with its towering perspective. It's supplemented here with a small fiber "sketch" he made in preparation for the final 72- by 41-inch quilt.”
KURT SHAW PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW WRITES- March 13, 2005. “Also on view in an adjacent gallery are 16 quilts by local quilter Shawn Quinlan in what Constitutes the first solo show. Quinlan, of Forest Hills, has two quilts in the touring show, but they are tame in comparison to those on display here. That's because the artist often chooses to make quilts that are as much statements as they are art. For example, in "The Quilt That Won't Comfort," which Quinlan made in response to the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, the Last Supper is depicted as if to include the viewpoints of many religions, such as Catholicism, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism. Not only are symbols relating to each included, but references to war -- such as army tanks, an oil barrel, skulls, flames and jet fighter planes -- allude to the horrors of war. On the reverse, Quinlan has inscribed powerful words such as "terror," "war," "hypocrisy" and "greed" to further drive home the point. All in all, Quinlan's works are a perfect accompaniment to an exhibition that suggests quilting one day might evolve into one of the manly arts.”
KURT SHAW PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW WRITES- May 20, 2004. “Although Perpich is more direct than most in addressing the spiritual side, she still is not as bold as Shawn Quinlan, whose quilt "Who would Jesus bomb?" is sure to raise some eyebrows. A small colorful quilt depicting Jesus between two mushroom clouds and warplanes, it's quite a jump from his earlier work "What would Jesus drive?", which he showed in last year's Annual Exhibition.”
MARY THOMAS, POST-GAZETTE WRITES- May 29, 2004. “and Shawn Quinlan's "Pink Lady," whose face dominates or recedes beneath a swirl of sensuous plump stitched spirals depending upon vantage point, introduce a psychological component. ("Lady" will appear on HGTV's "Simply Quilts," an episode about male quilters exhibited at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum.) His "Quilt Behind Bars" and Terry Carmen's "My Christmas Quilt" are two extraordinary works among many exceptional fiber pieces that exude their makers' skill and patience. The placement of the piecings in Quinlan's two-sided multitudinously patterned quilt sets up a lively visual rhythm.”
MARY THOMAS PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE WRITES- June 25, 2004
“The Associated Artists of Pittsburgh have been flying under the radar recently but right now they're hot. Fiber artist Shawn Quinlan's "Who Would Jesus Bomb?" is winning in technique, concept and presentation. Combining a faux velvet picture of Jesus exposing his Sacred Heart with appliquéd bombs and fiery licks, tumultuous quilted spirals and airplanes probably cut from material used to decorate a boy's room, he creates potent political commentary.”
MARY THOMAS, POST-GAZETTE WRITES- June 19, 2003. "The selection made by jurors Laura Hoptman, Carnegie Museum of Art curator of contemporary art, and Elizabeth Thomas, assistant curator, reflects the organization's vitality, exemplified by Shawn Quinlan's cheeky and polished "What Would Jesus Drive." The artist puts the haloed infant at the wheel of a John Deere tractor in the center of the fastidiously appliquéd fiber work, all of found fabric, but leaves the question open by placing Jesus in other vehicles -- blue Chevy convertible, dump truck, yellow taxicab -- that spiral out from the central figure. A standout in last year's annual also, we can look forward to more of his irreverent and intelligent sociopolitical commentary to come."
KURT SHAW PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW WRITES- September 1, 2002. "It's that time again. The Associated Artists of Pittsburgh's annual juried survey exhibition has descended upon us. But this time it has landed at The Andy Warhol Museum. The juror for this exhibition was Jerry Saltz, an art critic for The Village Voice in New York City. Impressive to be sure, but Saltz is not the only outsider in the history of the exhibition to choose among the entries, which this year numbered 488, from 175 artists. Those are just a few of the more exciting pieces that have been made by newer members. Others include Shawn Quinlan's elaborately detailed quilt, "The Quilt That Won't Comfort" (the only piece that addresses the tragedy of Sept. 11)."
JEAN HORN, TRIBUNE-REVIEW WRITES- September 2, 2002. “The Quilt That Won’t Comfort by Shawn Quinlan depicts a Last Supper with apostles sharing oversized tablets of the anti-anthrax drug Cipro, along with blackened images of the World Trade Center towers, gushing oil wells and attacking tanks. Controversial? Perhaps. Warm and cuddly? No way."
MARY THOMAS, POST-GAZETTE WRITES- September 8, 2002. "Was it art? No less so than the thousands of spontaneous memorials that sprang up in the aftermath of Sept. 11, near the trinity of sites so unnaturally ravaged, but also in other locales. From the team effort of Walter Long Manufacturing Co. workers, whose miniature WTC ruin sits atop a red, white and blue-painted pole crowned with an American flag, to artist Shawn Quinlan's painstakingly stitched "Quilt That Won't Comfort," thick with symbols of Catholicism, Judaism and Islam juxtaposed with tanks, Monopoly money and oversized Cipro tablets, people made objects during the past year that rose from deeply held feelings and ideas. That the former work resides in a South Side company parking lot and the latter in The Andy Warhol Museum is consequential only in that it illustrates the egalitarianism of tragedy."
MARY THOMAS, POST-GAZETTE WRITES- August 14, 1999. “Using the homiest of forms -- the quilt -- Shawn Quinlan makes chilling commentary on our children's loss of innocence in the superb "After School Special."