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Gio Swaby

September 06, 2017

Gio Swaby is a mixed media artist whose practice encompasses installation, textiles, collage, performance, and video. She was born and raised in Nassau, Bahamas where she obtained her Associate's degree in Fine Art from The College of The Bahamas in 2012. In 2013, she moved to Vancouver to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree majoring in Film, Video and Integrated Media at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. She completed the program in 2016 and her work has been featured in several international institutions, including spaces in The Bahamas, Canada, China, Austria, Italy and The United States. Her first solo exhibition, We All Know Each Other, opens at UNIT/PITT Projects in Vancouver on September 8.

1. Issa Rae

I loved Issa Rae's Awkward Black Girl series when it was on YouTube and I love Insecure now on HBO. I see myself represented in her character as well as others on the show, and it's just a reaffirmation that representation truly does matter. It's absolutely inspiring to see a Black woman direct, write, and act in a series that is so unapologetically centred on Blackness and womaness. We see more and more of these Black-centred films and series emerging and achieving wild success – such as Girls Trip, Blackish, Atlanta, Doc McStuffins, etc. – without perpetuating harmful stereotypes and it feels like progress. The lie that representing people of colour is unmarketable becomes that much more difficult to perpetuate.

2. Chicken Nuggets

I mean the frozen supermarket version that you cook in the oven for twenty minutes and they come out as a crunchy chicken-flavored physical representation of unconditional love and the feeling you get after a good Netflix binge. I only eat these when I'm too busy or tired to think about treating my body respectfully. I sometimes pair them with frozen broccoli for nutritional value, but I mostly just eat them with ketchup. I'm preparing for my first solo exhibition and I have reached the point of seriously considering how much of them I can eat before they kill me.

3. Self-portraits

I am absolutely thrilled about the reemergence of portraiture in contemporary art. It aligns with the ubiquity of social media and the ever-present selfie. It's beautiful to see people, especially people outside of the white, male, cis-gendered, able-bodied population taking control and reclaiming their image. Of course there's the impulse to charge the subject with narcissism. We spend most of our days looking at other people, so it's hard for me to label it as self-obsession. Why wouldn't you want to explore your own image? Especially if you belong to a marginalized and underrepresented group.

4. Womanism

Goddess Alice Walker, who is everything and more, said, "Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender." I am Black, an immigrant, a Millennial and a woman. A lot more comes into play than just my gender when considering my capacity to be dominated (term courtesy of the phenomenal bell hooks) by others. I’ve seen feminism be exclusionary so often that when I call myself a feminist, I always feel the need to indicate that I refer to intersectional feminism. As a womanist, intersectionality is the basis of the ideology rather than a secondary consideration.

5. Drinking water

You probably know by now that I don't have the healthiest habits. Something else you probably know, because you're likely more successful at adulating: water is the single most underrated substance on planet earth. I got a Swell bottle recently and started drinking a lot more water because of it. Let me tell you, I am a changed woman. Is this what it's like to be a fully functioning human? I am less tired, my headaches have substantially subsided, my joint pain has decreased, and my hair and skin rejoice on a daily basis. In conclusion, drinking water is super lit.



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