Although street art is normally meant to disrupt or impose, garnering meaning as a symbol of transgression, multi-media artist Swoon treats her public cut-paper wheat-pastes as collaborations with their environs. Exploring the range of her medium, Swoon has created intricate cut-paper installations indoors as well—one, forty feet tall, is on view at the ICA Boston through the end of the year.
Straddling not only the boundary between fine art and street art, Swoon also works in the intersection of activism and art. After a similar project in New York, the artist and thirty of her friends gathered discarded materials and assembled boats that they sailed through the Venice’s canals during the 2009 Biennale, making both beautiful and functional that which had been deemed outworn. She had done a similar project in New York the previous year. Swoon has a studio in Braddock, Pennsylvania (a city we mentioned last week), where she and a group of other artists are working on Points of Interest, a public art project wherein Braddock youths pick sites for the artists to create “out-stallations.”
In a recent undertaking, the Konbit Shelter Project, Swoon helped organize a team of builders, architects, engineers, and artists working to sustainably rebuild homes for those who lost theirs in Haiti during the 2010 earthquake. The proceeds from certain of her creations go toward funding the project. Last year, in her project The Music Box: A Shantytown Sound Laboratory, the artist turned a crumbling New Orleans home into an interactive music center. Swoon uses her work as a vehicle to create, engage, and better communities. Gallerist Christina Ray of KESTING/RAY (which represents the artist in New York) remarked, “Swoon is a constant source of inspiration for me in her pursuit of projects that focus on issues of social justice.”
Swoon is currently in Kenya working with Equality Effect, an organization that develops creative legal solutions to help combat the abuse of women in Africa.