The Red Skein
“The Red Skein” is the latest monograph by Swoon, covering more than a decade of her work. In 224 pages, featuring over 200 vibrant images, this book explores the artistic journey of Caledonia Curry, also known as Swoon, one of the world’s most celebrated female street artists.
The in-depth book explores Swoon’s creations both on the streets and in the studio, encompassing animation projects, collaborations, museum installations, and community-based initiatives. “The Red Skein” stands as the most comprehensive and valuable collection of her artistic endeavours. An especially captivating addition is the intimate and poignant text titled “Persephone, Medea, Hecate: Constructing a crossroads for art and psychedelic-assisted therapy,” in which Caledonia shares her personal background and articulates the profound significance of art in her life.
The book also features an introduction by Dr. Gabor Mate, a bestselling author and Hungarian physician renowned for his expertise in various fields, including addiction, stress, and childhood development. Further enriching the content are essays by New York-based curator RJ Rushmore, one of the world’s youngest and most respected critics of street and graffiti art; Melena Ryzik, a New York Times reporter who was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team in 2018 for their reporting on workplace sexual harassment; Jerry Saltz, an American art critic serving as senior art critic for The Village Voice and a columnist for New York magazine; and Pedro Alonzo, a Boston-based independent curator and Adjunct Curator at Dallas Contemporary), Jeffrey Deitch (art dealer and curator, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art LA 2010-2013) and Judy Chicago (feminist artist, art educator, and writer.)
Caledonia Curry, renowned as Swoon, is a Brooklyn-based artist who made history as the first woman to achieve substantial recognition in the male-dominated realm of street art. Callie embarked on her artistic journey in the streets of New York while attending the Pratt Institute of Art in 1999. Her mission was clear: to make art and the public spaces of the city more accessible.
Amidst a contemporary art landscape that often grapples with conflicting notions of beauty, Callie’s work emanates sincerity. She treats beauty as a sublime force even as she delves into the darker facets of her subjects. Her art seamlessly intertwines the whimsical with the grounded, frequently weaving elements of fairy tales, fragments of myths, and a recurring motif of the sacred feminine. Threads of her own family history, and the legacy of her parents’ struggles with addiction and substance abuse, resurface throughout her creations.
While much of Callie’s art explores the fantastical, there’s also a potent strain of realism running through her work. This realism extends beyond her art, manifesting in her numerous social initiatives. Notably, she has led a long-term community revitalization project in Braddock, Pennsylvania, and has spearheaded efforts to construct earthquake-resistant homes in Haiti through Konbit Shelter. Her non-profit organisation, the Heliotrope Foundation, was established to provide continued support for these vital endeavours.
Today, Callie’s art adorns the sides of buildings worldwide and has found both permanent and transient homes in esteemed institutions such as New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Tate Modern, and the São Paulo Museum of Art. More recently, she has ventured into film animation to explore the boundaries of visual storytelling. Currently, she is in the process of developing a screenplay and directing her first feature-length fiction film, receiving support from the Sundance Institute.
Caledonia Curry’s journey as Swoon represents a remarkable fusion of artistic expression, social activism, and a pioneering spirit that continues to shape the world of art and beyond.