artist spotlight: SWOON

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SWOON, aka caledonia dance curry aka callie, was born in new london, connecticut in 1978.  her family moved to daytona beach, florida when she was very young, and by 19 she moved to brooklyn to study painting at the pratt institute. while attending pratt, she feared that her art would only be seen by those wealthy enough to purchase it, so she used street art as a way to share her gift with the rest of the world. in 1999 she started experimenting with street art and completed her first large scale installation series in 2005.  She specializes in life-size wheatpaste prints and paper cutouts of human figures, especially of her friends and family.

SWOON worked anonymously for most of her career.  it wasn’t until her then-boyfriend had a dream about the two of them doing graffiti and running from the police that she started working under SWOON.  in the dream she was writing ‘SWOON’ on the walls of buildings.  after that she began tagging her work and gaining recognition in the street art community.

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SWOON describes that as a young woman, she did not have a sense of her ability to make a change.  when she moved to brooklyn she joined many groups that focused on making a difference in the community.  she joined ‘grub,’ which provides free dumpster-dived dinners and even founded the ‘toyshop collective,’  known for organizing events such as a march through the lower east side consisting of 50 people playing instruments made out of junk.

it wasn’t until she met a woman who asked her about a small piece of art that she had put up in a neighborhood that she realized her potential to make a difference. the woman told her that a mentally disabled man who lived in the neighborhood had started to call the piece “the secret” and would take people to show them the artwork. the little piece had become a special thing in the community and SWOON realized that “one tiny thing can make an opportunity for connection and can inspire the feeling that maybe there is another world existing around us and that we only need a perception shift in order to see.” this became the focus of most of her artwork.

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in 2015, SWOON founded the heliotrope foundation to help communities respond and heal after natural disasters and other urgent social crises.  the organization builds spaces of wonder that serve as community resource centers and catalysts for local change.  

they believe that the creative process can and should be a part of how the community heals, rebuilds and moves forward after natural disasters, economic devastation, and moments of social crisis.  

visit the website, here.

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