How street artist Swoon creates life-size dreamlike worlds


Swoon, born Caledonia Curry, has been experimenting and challenging herself for almost 20 years. Since studying at Pratt Institute, she’s been creating massive installations for galleries as well as engaging in humanitarian efforts.

how street artist swoon creates life size dreamlike worlds How street artist Swoon creates life size dreamlike worlds


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In 2017 I made a sculpture that healed a corner of my mind. I started at the white hot point of a nightmare – beginning at the place in my psyche where I had disassociated from fears that my mother would kill me when she was suicidal or psychotic. My first knowledge of this disassociation had started at the age of 15 with the image of myself as a scrambled switchboard where messages and receivers were slyly but deliberately mixed up in order to hide a painful truth about fearing and hating the one I also loved and adored. Making the piece was excruciating. It held my attention on things which my psyche had built elaborate mechanisms to forget and it forced me to digest them slowly and with intention. I used the Greek myths of Medea and Persephone, the Red Riding Hood fable, the Ice Queen tales, storybooks my dad had read to me in childhood, psychology text books and images from dreams. When I was done I felt ashamed at how much children loved it. They’d run over to its exhuberant pink dollhouse form, pick up one of the switchboard’s headphones and a voice from a story would be whispering “kill the baby, kill the baby” and I’d think, great, now I traumatize children too. I felt like, ok, I got away with making this thing once, but no one will understand it, and no one will ever want to show it again. Then I got invited to be a part of a show called “Catastrophe and the Power of Art”. I sat down and talked with the curators about the nature of intergenerational trauma and the journey which had lead me to create this piece; how trauma fractures the psyche and how art rebuilds – and they got it. I feel more than a little blessed to be given space to build and explore stories that are complex, layered, nebulous, and messy as the psyche itself. And to be able to speak ugly truths and daunting taboos in a language (art) which is itself a medium of alchemical transformation. The Medea is up at @moriartmuseum in Tokyo until January 20th, along side post-disaster architecture by Tadao Ando, and Social commentary by @aiww @yokoonoofficial Isaac Julien @chimpomart @katotsubasa ((thankyou curators @ken_kubo and Kenichi Kondo, and sound collaborator @jwest42 for all you do.))

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This is 2008. We're basically at sea at this point, which is crazy. It's the New York Harbor, and we've almost never been in waters this open, save for one death defying incident on the 5 mile wide stretch of the Mississippi River in high winds. There are moments that you won't in your life likely forget, that hold you simultaneously spellbound with wonder and tingling with mortal fear, and this is one of them. At the retrospective this fall, we're building a raft theater (out of raft pieces), and we'll be showing a continuous loop of films made during the 4 years we spent proving to ourselves that we believed in magic, even when we knew that magic was built out of slimy plywood, broken motors, and endless arguments. Go to the link in my bio to find a series of works representing each year since 1999, all created to support this and other aspects of the retrospective. Photo by @todseelie

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Year end reflection: Sometimes I’m like a big ol’ tanker that gets plowing through the water under so much steam that it feels unimaginable to change course. The momentum of my life gets blazing forward in one direction until I find it’s dragging me somewhere I’m not sure I can sustain. In early 2017 I found that I had quietly, without my even realizing it, left the driver’s seat of my working life. I only noticed it when things started crashing in around me. I was traveling the world, doing huge immersive art installations as well as large scale community based work — by all accounts living my dream — and yet my soul was quietly disengaging and starting to pull me in another direction, and there wasn’t much I could do about it. At least not anything I could do that would also let me be true to the inspiration that had always guided my life. People talk about having a calling because when you listen to a deep source of inner guidance, there’s also sense of not necessarily being in full control. Of knowing there’s a particular wisdom that’s channeled straight to you, through you, or maybe it is you, it’s honestly hard to tell, all I know is that if I listen to other’s opinions instead of my own guidance it muddies the channel. Or if I try to rationalize and make fear based decisions instead of listening it muddies the channel. So 2018 has had me in a funny place. I’ve been cleaning out all the closets and attics of my life (literally and metaphorically). I’ve started to transition some of my community based projects to folks who can carry the torch in their own way. I’ve stopped doing block prints. Big installations and street pastes are now a rare thing. I’m experimenting with time based story telling using intuitive, subconsciously driven narratives. I’m pulling my energies back in toward my center because there’s something in there that wants my attention. All this to say, 2019, I been gettin ready for ya. I’m curious and a bit ecstatic see where this goes. ( experiments in #stopmotion #animation #stopmotionanimation)

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How street artist Swoon creates life-size dreamlike worlds

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