An ode to Black women
At first glance, Gio Swaby’s artwork can be deceptively simple. Her portraits are marked by thin, black lines that sketch the images of beautiful, confident Black women. But looking closer, you are drawn into a complex composition of stitched, knotted, and dangling threads and colorful appliqued fabric on a raw canvas background.
Simplicity and complexity coexist in her portraits, and this is intentional. Swaby, who is from the Bahamas and currently lives in Toronto, begins each piece with a reference photo of a Black woman in her life—her sisters, friends, and family members. She translates the photo into a drawing on canvas and uses a sewing machine to trace those lines with free-motion quilting techniques. She achieves this by using the needle like a pen and moving the fabric in any direction to create the image.
April 19, 2023