may, 2022

202228may(may 28)12:00 am09oct(oct 9)11:59 pmMuseum of Fine Arts St Petersburg | 05/28/22 - 10/09/22 | FRESH UP | GIO SWABY | St Pete


May 28 (Saturday) 12:00 am - October 9 (Sunday) 11:59 pm


Museum of Fine Arts St Petersburg

255 Beach Dr NE Saint Petersburg FL 33701


Museum of Fine Arts St Petersburg727-896-2667 255 Beach Dr NE Saint Petersburg FL 33701

Event Details

Art Exhibition | 05/28/22 – 10/09/22
St Pete

Museum of Fine Arts St Petersburg
255 Beach Dr NE Saint Petersburg FL 33701

The Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg is proud to present the first solo museum exhibition of multidisciplinary artist Gio Swaby (b. 1991 Nassau Bahamas) whose work explores the intersections of Blackness and womanhood. Employing the portrait genre and a range of textile-based techniques Swaby’s work is anchored in a desire to present and celebrate the complex personalities of the sitters. Interested in restorative forms of resistance she has stated “My work operates in the context of understanding love as liberation a healing and restorative force. These pieces celebrate personal style strength beauty individuality and imperfections.”

Swaby works in series form and the exhibition will feature bodies of work spanning 2017 through 2021. Growing up surrounded by the threads and fabrics of her mother a seamstress Swaby chooses to work in mediums traditionally associated with domesticity as a means to imbue her works with familiarity labor and care. Swaby upends tradition however and gives the sewing medium a sense of monumentality with the life-size series Pretty Pretty. The subjects are intricately rendered in freehand lines of thread and shown on the reverse side of the canvas so that the stitching process—its knots and loose threads so often hidden—is visible. There’s a vulnerability to “showing the back” but Swaby embraces and elevates the imperfections.

Swaby’s art is centered upon the personal connections forged between subject and artist and conversation is key to achieving these portraits of beauty and power that she deems love letters to Black women. The portraits begin with a photo shoot wherein the subjects are captured in a moment of empowerment and self-awareness. Swaby foregrounds their personal style —seen in the detailed renderings of jewelry hair and clothing—creating space for self-definition and unapologetic self-expression.

Swaby earned her BFA in Film Video and Integrated Media from Emily Carr University of Art Design Vancouver BC and is currently completing an MFA in Interdisciplinary Art Media and Design at OCAD University Toronto ON. She has exhibited internationally and her work is included in the permanent collections of major public institutions throughout the United States.

This exhibition is co-organized with the Art Institute of Chicago where it will open in 2023. A fully illustrated catalogue published by Rizzoli Electa accompanies the exhibition and features an interview between Swaby and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Nikole Hannah-Jones as well as series introductions by the artist and essays by Melinda Watt the Art Institute of Chicago’s Chair and Christa C. Mayer Thurman Curator of Textiles and Katherine Pill Curator of Contemporary Art Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg.

Made possible in part by generous support from:
The Margaret Acheson Stuart Society Gobioff Foundation Sonia Raymund Foundation Inc. and James G. Sweeny and Garth Family Foundation with contributing support from City of St. Petersburg and the State of Florida Department of State Division of Arts and Culture and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.

Support for the exhibition catalogue provided by the MFA Collectors Circle.