Shawn McQuate has been creating his haunting and intriguing drawings for just a few years, but his unique style has evolved dramatically during that short time. No one could have predicted that Shawn would decide to become an artist in his early 50s ... he is legally blind as a result of a previous illness and has had no formal training in drawing techniques. A former ballet dancer, Shawn is also a choreographer and fashion designer whose work will be featured at the Club 57 Exhibit at MoMA in the fall of 2017. As a friend to Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf and Ann Magnuson in the early ’80s, Shawn created fashions and dances for Club 57 shows and was an active participant in the early punk arts and music scene in New York City.
Shawn’s Creative Process for Illustrations: “I always start with an abstract ‘ﬁeld’ onto which I can project something that I would not have imagined if I simply drew an image already in my mind. Even when I have a speciﬁc topic in mind, I often have no idea how the image will come out in the end. I draw an abstract structure of shapes, going in a spiral and following my own rules for connecting the shapes and ﬁlling up the ﬁeld. When the basic field is deﬁned, I contemplate it with the belief that there is an image within the ﬁeld that ‘wants’ to be drawn. “When creating an illustration, I research the subject in advance to load my subconscious. Then I extract from those visualizations to create something new out of all the elements. For my house-shaped drawings, I looked at images of Victorian mansions to inform my outline of the house. Then I ﬁlled it in with 'fields’ that would become each room. For the Tree of Whatever, I started with a tree trunk and branches, and then made a ﬁeld of leaf shapes around the branches and ﬁlled it in with faces and other whimsical objects.”