Informed by Science | Quilting Arts Podcast Episode 18

Quilting Arts Episode 18 Podcast header featuring Shannon Conley

Artists and scientists have so much in common. Both disciplines require focus, curiosity, fearlessness, and an inquisitive mind. On this episode of the Quilting Arts Podcast, hosts Susan Brubaker Knapp and Vivika Hansen DeNegre invite artist and cell biologist Shannon Conley to discuss some of the fascinating ways art and science intersect.

This episode is sponsored by Spoonflower.

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Tune in to listen to a special interview with Spoonflower designer, Andrea Tsang Jackson at the end of this episode!

Andrea Tsang Jackson

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Below are a few resources mentioned in the conversation

Here’s a quick screen shot from our recorded session
High Desert Garden • 41″ x 34″ x 6″ • 2018

“I love the hot burnt colors of flowers that flourished in the high deserts of New Mexico where I grew up. This quilt drew inspiration from red hot pokers and Indian paintbrush, growing in the crispy yellow-green grass. My goal in this series was to generate depth and motion without an internal armature, and I adapted traditional fabric manipulation techniques to accomplish it.”

Listen Louder Than You Sing • 29½” x 42″ • 2017

“What do I want to say? That climate change is real and we need to take responsibility for it? That if we don’t protect our environment and natural resources now, our children won’t have anything left to protect in the future? That evidenced-based science should inform policy? That immigrant rights are human rights? That feminism isn’t a dirty word? That implicit bias is real and ignoring racism won’t make it disappear? Yes, yes, yes to all of that. But more overarchingly, I want to say that my (and your) American experience is not all American experiences. That good leadership requires recognizing that those you serve don’t have the same needs and perspectives as you do. Stop conversing with only those who think like you do. To quote our choir director- ‘Listen louder than you sing’.”

You Will Be in the Midst of Them • 2020 • 40″ • 30″

“During the 2020 shutdown, our extended family gathered several times a week for prayer and worship, for conversation, for games, for connection. Our eight zoom screens kept us together as I felt the year slide by: winter to spring, and then summer. On each panel I have written the prayer of St. Chrysostom, with which we close our liturgies of Morning and Evening Prayer. The refrain “and you have promised…that when two or three are gathered in his Name, you will be in the midst of them” coming out of my speakers is a sign of the essential virtual connections that kept me grounded and forward looking even as we physically isolated from each other and from the world.”

Shannon Conley, PhD

Shannon Conley is an art quilter in Moore, OK, whose work is informed by her experience as a cell biologist. She is an Assistant Professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine where her lab is focused on understanding the mechanisms associated with age-related diseases in the eye and brain. She is particularly focused on understanding how molecular and cellular changes in the aging blood vessels contribute to the development of cognitive impairment and dementia as well as age-related macular degeneration. Ideas for her quilts often arise from scientific research from her lab or others. Sometimes the link is obvious, such as pieces depicting biological specimens or topics, while other times the links is more indirect. Much of her recent work has focused on interpreting the diversity and interconnectedness of various ecosystems, largely focused on the dry mountains and high desert of southern New Mexico where she grew up. 

Shannon uses both traditional quilting techniques as well as non-traditional sculptural approaches to make her pieces. Shannon is an active member of SAQA, and volunteers on their Board of Directors. 

“Art is standing with one hand extended into the universe and one hand extended into the world, and letting ourselves be a conduit for passing energy.”  

Albert Einstein

This episode was sponsored by Spoonflower.

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