Swoon’s artwork stand out in a street art world that’s oft populated with brash, pop art figures. Where some of her guerrilla colleagues fill walls with Andre the Giants, cartoon characters, and Andy Warhol wannabes, she creates life-sized paper cut outs of everyday people, realistic rendered in black and white. With her bike nearly for a quick getaway, she wheat pastes these enigmatic souls—women, children, mermaids—at eye level where they interact with people who happen by. Born in Daytona Beach, Florida and trained in fine-arts at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute, Swoon’s illustrations and hand-cut paperwork draw on formal and folk traditions—German Expressionist and Japanese wood block printmaking, Mexican papel picado, and Wayang Kulit, the shadow puppets from Central Java.
Connected to several art collectives, including the radical Justseeds, Swoon has a tenuous relationship with the contemporary art establishment. She’s shown in museums and had solo show at key venues but her rogue gallery is most at home installed on neglected buildings and side alleys around the globe—in San Francisco, New York City, Miami, and Berlin. The work is always changing. With time, the newsprint she uses frays at the edges, giving each piece a haunted quality, as if the characters are emerging from the facades.