“I make work for people to see, but the process is for me,” says Gio Swaby, the Bahamian portrait artist who positions Black joy as an act of resistance. Last spring, not long after starting as an MFA student at the Ontario College of Art and Design University, she sold out her solo debut at Claire Oliver Gallery in Harlem: Her large-scale textiles unencumber Black femmes from the politicization of the Black female form. (Roxane Gay was among those collectors.) “The big moments have a lot of duality,” Swaby says. Her recent success, which arrived during a time of mourning, was one such moment. Her mother, whose work as a seamstress proved influential, passed away the year before the show.
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