My work revolves around an exploration of identity, more specifically, the intersections of Blackness and womanhood. I am interested in the ways in which this physical identity can serve as a positive force of connection and closeness, while also examining its imposed relationship to otherness.

Giovanna Swaby is a Bahamian artist, currently based in Vancouver. She holds a BFA in Media Arts from Emily Carr University and has been featured in group exhibitions in Vancouver and The Bahamas. “We All Know Each Other” was her inaugural solo exhibition in Vancouver.

Excerpt from SAD Magazine

I have an associate’s degree in Fine Arts, so I kind of have a basis in painting, drawing, and ceramics—so, like traditional aspects of art-making. Then I studied film, video, and integrated media at Emily Carr, so I also have that media-based side of skill that I like to use. But for me, medium is one of the last things that I think about. I guess concept is really the premier sort of driving force behind my art-making, and I will kind of start to fill in the blanks once that’s fairly solid. So I may want to use a medium that’s better suited for my idea, rather than vice versa.

I think that’s why I’ve been so interested in dabbling in a lot of different skills, just so that I have more avenues to be able to communicate my ideas. But I feel like fabric and thread were just really fitting for the We All Know Each Other show, just because of the reference to what’s traditionally thought of as domesticity, or female-centred activities like sewing, or crocheting and knitting. Which I think relates very heavily in my work, draws on pretty heavily—the passing down of tradition. And that’s also echoed in the theme of hair and hair care, black women passing that tradition on to one another through generations. I feel like that’s why the medium of thread and fabric was so fitting. And the fact that they’re portraits, using the thread versus pen or charcoal—I think it really communicates to the viewer a sense of labour, a sense of process, time, and length. And that it’s fairly painstaking, you look at it and feel that a lot has gone into creating the work, a lot of time, a lot of energy, and also a lot of love and care. I felt like that was a very appropriate medium for this exhibition.

Giovanna Swaby is now represented by the Claire Oliver Gallery in Harlem.


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