Shelley Swaim: Explorer of memories
print-making and mixed media paintings, Swaim incorporates these artifacts into her art. Washing photographs, blowing up root stems, strands of hair and models of painted antique dolls, Swaim's art could be described as three dimensional in a spectrum of ways. "Almost everything has been done," observed Swaim. "What makes art is the stories behind the maker which seep into the work."
"In a way, it doesn't matter what it starts out as," said Swaim. "It really doesn't matter that it comes from me or if it comes from a person at all to some degree," In such an exacting art as print-making, in which Swaim goes over and over her morphing projects, re-tinting, re-editing, re-etching and re-visiting constantly, avoiding over-kill is a challenge.
"I'd have a problem where I wouldn't know when to stop," said Swaim. "Now I know when I'm finished when I walk away and look at it from a distance and it affects me. Sometimes, I leave my work out and watch people who don't know me look at it and see if there's an emotional reaction (in them). My goal is to stop people in their tracks; for my work to become so anthropomorphic that it screams at their periphery."
"If it truly becomes a fetish object," said Swaim, "it is no longer about me or my making it. It becomes its own entity."
Ever fascinated by iconography, Swaim looks towards her future somewhat un-technically. "If I opened myself up to fine arts, there'd be many jobs," said Swaim. "But what really interests me is meeting and working with a lot of people." Swaim adds that she can have very spiritual experiences when making art. She is considering possibly teaching, or taking a fellowship for awhile.
"I'm really interested in how people haunt each other as they live, and to see what survives," said Swaim. "There's something painfully beautiful about discovering someone. But sometimes, when they aren't here, we discover them through objects."