Swoon (Caledonia Curry)

Edition Review

  • Swoon (Caledonia Curry), Sonia (2016)

  • Intaglio, relief, hand-painted acrylic gouache, and collage, 32 3/4 x 27 3/4 inches. Varied edition of 14. Printed and published by Tandem Press, Madison, WI. $5,000.

Swoon, Sonia [1/14] (2016).

In this new project by Caledonia Curry (better known as Swoon), intaglio and relief methods combine with collage elements and hand-painting to form a portrait of a woman emerging from a cluster of undulating lines and bold zigzags that seem to lift her torso aloft. A delicate laser-cut overlay features a network of lines resembling the vascular system, heart and lungs, as well as a pair of abstracted hands, flame and a tree. The mix of abstract and figurative imagery and of multiple techniques are signature aspects of the artist’s work, which includes painting, printmaking, sculpture and ambitious participatory events.

While studying at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, Curry began creating large drawings and linocut prints and wheat-pasting them in semi-abandoned spaces in New York, a practice she continues today in cities worldwide. Curry’s travels have led to her create art with the aim of helping local communities rebuild in the wake of economic collapse or environmental disaster. Most of her work incorporates portraiture, with subjects ranging from friends and family to individuals she has met while working on activist projects. Curry encountered Sonia, who appears in several pieces, in a workshop at a rehabilitation center in Philadelphia. The artist explains:

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.1

Each impression of this complex composition is hand-painted and unique in chromatic tone and in emotional tenor. In one, Sonia radiates a warm glow enlivened by fluorescent pink lightning bolts. In others, greater use of white makes the figure appear angelic and ethereal. In still others, washes of blue and aqua add cool tones, emphasizing the red and white in the laser-cut areas. But in all, the juxtaposition of graphic zigzags, sensitive fine-line drawing and lace-like laser-cutting, at once decorative and anatomical, delivers a portrait of strength and vulnerability.

  1. http://www.isupportstreetart.com/interview/swoon-a-visionary-artist/. []