Swoon – Moni and the Sphinx


SKU: 26616

Artwork Description

Swoon – Moni and the Sphinx

Dimensions: 60 x 48 x 1.75″ finished size
Year: 2019
Medium: block print and acrylic gouache on paper
on wooden painters panel

“This one I drew and carved while I was in a fairly secluded wilderness environment, and while I often draw from photographic reference, all of the symbols and decorative elements in this one were drawn straight from imagination. Something about being a little closer to the edge of the world while I was making it seems to have influenced that process. With each portrait I find that the symbolic elements accrue to tell their own story, and with this one that intuitive process was especially strong – rivers and wildflowers, owls, sphinxes forming a looping narrative about the instinctual nature of the psyche, growth, abundance, boundaries and protection. And maybe most importantly sitting in the center of our own creative power. (Moni) seems to spin a world directly out the tips of her fingers and I found a sense of lightning or spider silk coming from her finger tips seemed to naturally emerge as I drew.” —Swoon

Caledonia Curry, whose work appears under the name Swoon, is a Brooklyn-based artist and is widely known as the first woman to gain large-scale recognition in the male-dominated world of street art. Callie took to the streets of New York while attending the Pratt Institute of Art in 1999, pasting her paper portraits to the sides of buildings with the goal of making art and the public space of the city more accessible.

Today, Callie’s work can be found on the sides of buildings worldwide and has been given both permanent and transient homes in more classical institutions, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Tate Modern, and the São Paulo Museum of Art. Most recently, she has begun using film animation to explore the boundaries of visual storytelling.

With Moni and the Sphinx, Swoon created a mythologized portrait of one of her central collaborators and muses, fellow artist Monica Canilao. Swoon says of the work, “Wisdom, boundaries, the fecundity, and ferocity of nature are all being thought out within the forms in her dress. She’s emerging from, or is balanced on, a series of eggs and earths, rooting trees and river beds. There’s a sense of lightning coming from her fingers, which I let emerge organically out of the drawing because Monica is someone whose creativity seems to flow from her fingertips as naturally as spider’s silk and as spontaneously as lightning.”