We ‘ve had the wonderful opportunity to meet the unknown side of a very well known artist across the street art universe. Swoon, a higly spiritual woman, creates both stunning art and also gets people involved. She’s given some time to tell us about her latest project which seeks global support.
– (ISSA) – What would you choose to drink? Coffee, Tea, Beer, Soda or something else?
– (Swoon) – Americano with half and half, sweet.
-Introduce yourself to us!
– Caledonia Dance Curry, also known as Swoon……………………………………………………………
– Where does your tag name Swoon, come from?
– A dream!
– It started with linoleum block prints on walls, wanting to make exterior collages, subject to the elements. Now it includes almost any creative process that sits deeply within a context.
-What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
– Meditate. This changes everything for the better.
-Street art is mostly a visually stimulating form of art. To add one more sense to it, what music would you pick to accompany your art work?
– I wouldn’t circumscribe someone’s experience of it with specific music — unless it was the music coming out of our musical houses in New Orleans!…. Chaotic, layered, very experimental, this maybe could work.
-In all forms of art, inspiration is crucial. What inspires you?
– The creative force inherent in all forms of life. The patterns with which the universe seems to build itself. In everything I do, I’m trying to honour this.
-What is the hardest part for you, while working on a piece of art?
– Finding the depth of focus it takes to really go deep within the work. Defending time to draw against all of the demands of the outside world, and the projects I’ve started. Believing in myself.
-Do you have an artist you admire and what for?
– I admire Latoya Ruby Frazier. She is honest and brave and unflinching.
-Which cities do you think are the most inspirational in Street Art?
– Jogjakarta, Indonesia is my favourite.
-Do you have other passions apart from art?
– The Ocean. I’m learning to surf and scuba dive. The ocean makes me feel so happy and alive.
-Do you have a wild project that you dream of achieving some day?
– Yeah, I wanna make birthing temples. Huge beautiful temple like spaces with vaulted ceilings that you could stare at for hours, at once intricate and peaceful, for women to give birth in, so that the act of giving birth can be truly honoured.
-Tell us about your art, does it include symbolisms, messages or repeated patterns?
-It includes all of these things. Way too many to go into now. Instead I’ll just tell you about a recent one. It’s a portrait of a woman named Sonia. I worked with her in a rehab in Philly. I was doing arts therapy with a group of women in drug recovery, and talking with them about the almost universal link between trauma and addiction. Sonia suffered epileptic seizures that were brought on by her PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) flashbacks to severe childhood abuse. I helped her translate what was happening to her at those moments into a visual language that she could draw and paint, collage and talk about. She described lightning, at first tiny, and then exploding until it took her over. So when I created her portrait, i tried to draw all that I had seen of her, her tender heart, her expressive face, and also the lightning she had described became part of the piece.
– How long time do your works usually survive for?
Anywhere between 5 minutes and 3 years. On average maybe 6 months.
-What do you think people first think or feel when they see one of your works on the street?
– People often describe connecting with the portraits, and the delicacy and impermace of the imagery and materials. That makes me happy.
-Do you have a secret you would like to share with us? 🙂
– Last week I got so exhausted, I went to bed early every night for 3 nights in a row just watching children’s movies from the 80’s….starting with the Never Ending story…
-What are your creative plans for the future?
– Just keep growing and letting the creative connections between projects surprise me.
-Is there a specific thought or message you would like to pass to our audience out there?
– Yeah, when someone is behaving in a fucked up way, making you angry, or doing something you can’t understand, just pause for a moment, and try to recognize that most of the time, they are acting from a place of pain. What you’re seeing is an unsuccessful attempt to get past some suffering. This doesn’t excuse their behaviour, but it gives you some space to feel where they are as a human being. It’s a small skill I’m trying to practice daily. It’s not always easy, but it’s making life easier for me in a way that makes other people easier to accept and to understand.
– Tell us about your Braddock Tiles project and the kickstarter?
– We’re just launching it now! It’s pretty exciting. The project is a big one. We are working to re-open a formerly abandoned church, in a town that’s lost most of it’s jobs and industry. We want to make a small creative business of making ceramic tiles within the church, and to have this factory also make the tiles that the building needs to fix it’s own roof. We’re going to hire and train people locally, and hopefully work with artists from all over the world to make tiles to support the project. See more about it here.
– Which artists will be donating prints for the benefit?
– Momo, Lilkool, Jim Kidd, Tara Mcphereson, and Me (plus 70 others who have already been a part of it!)
– Why is this project so important to you?
– I believe in tackling major societal challenges through creativity. The challenge of the collapse of so many of our towns in certain regions of the United States is a huge one, and if we can make a positive impact through our creative thinking and our actions, this is the kind of thing that makes life worth living.
– Can you also tell us more about why you set up The Heliotrope Foundation and what it does?
– The Heliotrope Foundation is a non-profit that I set up to help grow the three long term community based projects I’m working on now – in Haiti, New Orleans, and Braddock, PA, and also to articulate this set of beliefs that creativity can play a major role in times of crisis. From the natural disaster that struck Haiti in 2010, to the slow scale economic disaster that is still unfolding in Braddock, there is a role for creative problem solving, and even a role for craft, aesthetics, and inventive design — and through these means, we are working on socially conscious ways to create positive change.
– Thank you Swoon, it has been great learning more about you and your works of vision.
Braddock Tiles project images:
You can see more of Swoon’s works here.
Support the project here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/heliotrope/braddock-tiles?ref=nav_search
Images: Braddock Prints – http://braddocktiles.org/collections/prints
We would especially like to thank Issa PR for making this interview possible.
Check out their website: www.issa-pr.com