Gio Swaby’s embroidered portraits are ‘love letters to Black women’

The Weekly Challenger

Bahamian artist Gio Swaby’s giant tapestries on canvas will grace the walls until Oct. 9, so get there fast. Swaby’s first solo museum exhibition is made up of more than 40 works; the show was co-organized with the Art Institute of Chicago, where it opens in 2023. “Fresh Up” is a Bahamian term expressing how women feel when they are feeling and looking great.

The show features work spanning 2017-21. Swaby’s creations are birthed out of her childhood, where she grew up bathed in the creative influence of her mother, who was a seamstress.

In a process that includes using a “sitter” to photograph before transferring the silhouette to her magical canvases and adorning them in brightly colored textiles and threads, Swaby’s pantheon of female figures feels at once like goddesses and warriors while also reminding us of beloved dollies from our childhoods.


September 7, 2022