Artist Gio Swaby’s First Solo Show Brings Stunning Fabric Portraits to the Peabody Essex Museum

Alexandra Pecci for Northshore Magazine

The domestic arts of sewing, embroidery, and quilting result in beautiful, intricate creations that are bright, colorful, and intimate. But they’ve also been long associated with women and the home, and haven’t been given the wider artistic attention they deserve. Black women, too, are often overlooked, ignored, and left out of the rarefied world of fine art. 

That’s not the case this fall at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), which is showcasing 12 textile-based portraits by Gio Swaby, a young Bahamian-Canadian artist who uses fabric and thread to create colorful images of the women in her life. The results are riotously colorful and intricately created portraits that Swaby has called “love letters to Black women and girls.”

October 4, 2023