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     Marilu Swett makes work in the dual areas of sculpture and drawing.  Her work reflects her interest in biological form, its volume, complexity and variety and the ways we interrogate it. She indicates this in a general and fanciful way, by abstracting, inventing, and overlapping relationships to indicate space and slow movement. The work remains abstract, but merges the layered space of her ink drawings with the factual space occupied by sculpture. References include natural systems and subsystems, microscopic form, telluric and oceanic form,  images from the human body, and industrial artifacts.

 

     Recently, Swett has been looking at the ocean as site of evolution, human industry, and watery companionship. Seaforms of all scales appear, evolve, and dive beneath the surface. Themes from 19th century whaling and fishing show up in her choice of material, hardware, and pattern. Pieces evoke the leisure time activities of scrimshaw and textile embellishment and the hard labor of fishing and whaling, directly and indirectly. The profound experience of being in and on the water, and walking its shores, drives her new work.

 

     Any creeping references to benthic inhabitants are to be blamed on her husband, an environmental scientist and segmented worm enthusiast, and his acolyte, their son Jonah.

 

     Marilu Swett, a greater Boston native, lives and works in Jamaica Plain, MA. She holds a BFA   from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and an MFA from Massachusetts College of Art. She has exhibited widely in the U.S., and has work in corporate collections in Massachusetts at Bank of America Corporation; Fidelity Investments, Boston; Siena Construction Company, Cambridge; New England Biolabs, Beverly; Meditech Corporation, Canton and the the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

 

     Swett is a recipient of a grant for First Light, for a sculptural installation, Brookline, MA (2008); a residency for iron casting at the Maryhill Art Museum in Washington (2002); a New England foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Sculpture (1997); a Somerville Arts Council general support grant (1990); and a Massachusetts Artists Foundation Studio Exchange grant (1986). She is an Associate Professor of Art at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, MA.

 

Selected Solo & Duo Exhibitions:

Sounding, Boston Sculptors Gallery, Boston, MA November 2014 (solo)

Magnitude, Boston Sculptors Gallery, Boston, MA 2012 (solo)

Marilu Swett: Casting Off, Boston Sculptors Gallery, Boston, MA 2010 (solo)

It Makes Sense, Boston Sculptors Gallery, Boston, MA, 2008 (solo)

Marilu Swett: Markers and Holes, Boston Sculptors Gallery, Boston, MA, 2006 (solo)

Marilu Swett: Drawings and Mixed Media, Wheelock College, Boston, MA, 2005 (solo)

Sculpture Exhibit, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, 2002 (solo)

Sculpture, OH+T Gallery, Boston, MA 2001 (duo)

Exhibit, Acacia Gallery, Gloucester, MA, 2001 (solo)

Drawing and Sculpture, Pagus Gallery, Norristown, PA, 2000 (solo)

Exhibit, New England Biolabs, Beverly, MA, 1999 (duo)

Drawing and Sculpture, Nesto Gallery, Milton Academy, Milton, MA, 1998 (duo)

Falling Light, Montserrat College of Art, Beverly, MA, 1998 (duo)

Sculpture, Sarah Doyle Gallery, Brown University, Providence, RI, 1992 (solo)

 

Selected Group Exhibitions:

Double Visions, Duxbury Art Complex, Duxbury, MA, May, 2016

Sizing It Up: Scale and Nature in Art, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA, 2015-2016

Contemporary Sculpture at Chesterwood, Chesterwood National Historic Site, Stockbridge, MA, 2015

Boston Sculptors at Concord, Concord Center for the Visual Arts, Concord, MA, 2015

Unbound, Artistree Gallery, Woodstock, VT, 2013

Convergence, Christian Science Center Plaza, Boston, MA, 2013

Holiday Exhibit, Albright Art Gallery, Concord, MA, 2012

Stirring The Waters/Between Two Bodies, The Sculpture Center, Cleveland, OH, 2012

Boston Sculptors 20th Anniversary, The Art Museum, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, MA, 2012

Art Encounters Preservation, Wentworth/Coolidge Mansion Historical Site, Portsmouth, NH, 2011 (invitational)

Selected Works from the Boston Sculptors Gallery, Paul Creative Arts Center, University of New Hampshire, Durham, 2011

Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit, Mill Brook Gallery, Concord, NH, 2011

Art Encounters Agriculture, Allandale Farm, Brookline, MA, 2010

Science and Art, Curry College, Milton, MA 2010

Alchemy: Art and Science at Clark University, Worcester, MA, 2010

Plenty, 13 Forest Gallery, Arlington, MA, 2009-2010

Community Show, Endicott College, Beverly, MA, 2009

Transformers, Boston Sculptors Gallery, 2009

First Light, Outdoor Installation, Brookline, MA, 2008-2010

Works on Paper, Boston City Hall, Boston, MA, 2007

Somatech, Drawing Installation, Studio Soto Gallery, Boston, MA 2004

The Drawing Show, Mills Gallery, Boston Center for the Arts, MA, 2004

Collection Connection: Boston Sculptors at the Arts Complex Museum, Duxbury, MA, 2003-2004

Contemporary Drawing 2003, TW Wood Gallery and Arts Center, Vermont College Union Institute & University, Montpelier, VT, 2003

Spare, OH+T Gallery, Boston, MA, 2003

Iron Rodeo, Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle, WA, 2003

New Year/New Work, OH+T Gallery, Boston, MA, 2003

Outdoor Sculpture, Byrdcliffe Arts Colony, Woodstock, N, 2002

Generations III, A.I.R. Gallery, New York, NY, 2002

Outdoor Sculpture, Fuller Museum of Art, Brockton, MA, 2001

Outdoor Sculpture, Clark Gallery, Lincoln, MA, 1998

Sculpture, Gallery @ Green Street, Boston, MA, 1998

Invitational Exhibition, Boston Sculptors at Chapel Gallery, Newton, MA, 1998

New Art: New England, Library Arts Center, Newport, NH, 1997

The Healing Heart, Providence, RI, 1997

Intrinsic, K&T Lionheart Gallery, Boston, MA, 1996

Just Add Water: Artists and the Aqueous World, Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, Racine, WI, 1996

Environmental Sculpture Exhibit, Acton Arboretum, Acton, MA, 1995

Let’s Play House, Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, Racine, WI, 1995

Garden Sculpture, Ashuah-Irving Gallery, Boston, MA, 1995

The Object Redux and The Aesthetics of Athletics, Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, Racine, WI, 1994

New England/New Talent, Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, MA, 1994

Seventh Annual Sculpture Exhibition, Bradley Palmer State Park, Topsfield, MA, 1993

Sculpture, Trussman Gallery, Simmons College, Boston, MA, 1993

The Extraordinary Object, Nesto Gallery, Milton Academy, Milton, MA, 1992

Just Plane Screwy: Metaphysical and Metaphorical Tools by Artists, Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, Racine, WI, 1992

Sixth Triennial Exhibition, Fuller Museum of Art, Brockton, MA, 1990

Raw Vision, Clark Gallery, Lincoln, MA, 1990

1989 Exhibit of Painting and Sculpture, Berkshire Art Museum, Pittsfield, MA, 1989

Painting and Sculpture, Chisenhale Gallery, Art Place Trust, London, England, 1986

 

Collections:

Meditech Corp, Canton, MA

New England Biolabs, Beverly, MA

Museum of Fine Arts: Boston, MA

Bank of America: Boston, MA

Fidelity Investments: Boston, MA

Siena Construction Company: Cambridge, MA

New England Biolabs: Beverly, MA

 

 

“Marilu Swett’s drawing-like sculptures delightfully oscillate between emphasis on line and emphasis on space. They hang beside layered drawings on vellum and paper that inspired them. Swett uses dyed urethane rubber to create loopy layers of lines…She wittily plays against expectations of light and shadow, making the deepest layer the palest and most translucent, and imbuing the piece with a surprising spaciousness.”

 

     –Cate McQuaid, The Boston Globe, Sept. 2010

 

“Marilu Swett starts with the forms of industrial hardware found on the sides of buildings and along curbs. . . Swett takes forms so purely functional it seemed they never dreamed of beauty, then deftly raises them into the realm of metaphor. For the hoses and fireplugs, it’s like stepping through the wardrobe and finding oneself in Narnia. For us, it’s a rich melding of the mundane with the magical.”

 

     –Cate McQuaid, The Boston Globe, Jan.19, 2006

 

“Marilu Swett’s cartoonish forms have a crude, childlike quality that recalls the work of ‘brutal’ French artist Jean Dubuffet. A closer American antecedent would be the late work of painter Phillip Guston, which drew on the look of underground comics. Like both of those artists, Swett focuses on basic bodily processes: desire and satiation, fight-or-flight response, fear and longing. Only she does it without the bodies. . . Her contraptions, drawn on layered sheets of vellum, are also rather like Rube Goldberg machines…These unlikely soft machines travel across her surfaces, connected but inscrutable, active but performing mysterious tasks. In Peabody, something like a blimp or rocket hovers above a webbed accumulation of forms. The lower shapes seem to transform and evolve as they strive to reach hopelessly ever upward to the ponderous, bobbing vessel….”

 

     –Shawn Hill, Art New England, February, 2006

 

“Swett’s robust and flowing lines are given nuance by layering of their translucent surfaces, most notably in the large vellum installation that covers one wall and around the corner. In her breezy dialogue with line, Swett turns the space over to a merry life machine that appears to move and grow to its own tempo.”

 

   Meredith Fife Day, Art New England,  Jan.,2005

 

“Marilu Swett brings the body to mind by implication. Her ‘Collar’, a delicate cast bronze piece the size of an end table, blossoming in a circle at knee level, was inspired by the costumes in Dutch etchings, including one by Rembrandt. She sees bits of fashion as a sculptor would, as objects that signify something. By blowing it up into sculpture, she gives a 17th century collar new life, one that somehow retains and at the same time undermines the propriety suggested by the costume.”

 

   Cate McQuaid, The Boston Globe, Dec.9, 2003

 

“Marilu Swett’s cast-iron ‘Collar’ looks more like a found object than a crafted one—an artifact unearthed from the floor of a deserted factory. It’s bell-shaped with holes around the bottom and a slit down one side, cannily conflating hard industry with soft feminine wiles.”

 

   Cate McQuaid, The Boston Globe, Jan.17, 2003

 

“There are a few bright spots in the show…Marilu Swett’s “Murmur” places some odd bio-industrial looking artifacts (one of which looks like a discarded auto muffler) on the forest floor, which would be relatively uninteresting were it not for the fact that they were formed with accordion-like striations that directly mimic a rock outcropping nearby. Both of these works draw their strength from their respective response to the natural features of the land-which is what ‘site specificity’ is really all about.”

 

    –Beth Elaine Wilson, Chronogram:Backbone:Lucid Dreaming, Hudson Valley Living, NY, Sept.20, 2002

 

“In ‘Murmur”, Marilu Swett attends to the likeness between industrial and biological forms, so her lead sculptures, partly covered in earth and leaves, look part-muffler, part-snake. The hybrid quality is chilling. This piece picks up one of (Mark) Dion’s threads: the community in the soil of the living organisms and discarded junk.”

 

     –Cate McQuaid, The Boston Globe, Oct.9, 2001

 

“Marilu Swett, a Boston area sculptor exhibiting bronzes at Pagus Gallery, is concerned with evocative but nevertheless abstract shapes. Quite evident is a fundamental seriousness of purpose about her work.

These pieces are frequently organic, or at least often seem suggested by forms of growth in nature. A few are conceived in a format of static masses that is somewhat surreal.

Most of her other sculptures are opened up and have a flowing linear shape that carves through and defines space. Either way, everything is reduced to a disarming simpleness, the intensity and authority of each of these sculptures deriving from the relationship of elements within the piece itself.

To her credit, Swett constantly eschews mathematical purity in favor of a more personally abstract statement.”

 

  Victoria Donohoe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 14, 2000

 

“While none of the works was designed for the space, the first one you encounter uses the gallery’s height nicely.  This untitled bronze by Swett looks like a pair of droopy pods hung from the ceiling on heavy chains. The weighty, woebegone, yet slightly comical quality holds in Swett’s other works in the exhibition as well. All suggest biological forms, and all were first modeled directly in wax, which gives the shapes a warm, handmade quality. All are pleasingly ambiguous…An untitled work by Swett, a long, bending funnel curving out from the wall, is endearingly awkward, like a drooping calla lily or a trumpet gone limp, something that ought to stand proud but can’t manage.”

 

     –Christine Temin, The Boston Globe, Jan.14, 1998

 

“New Art, New England”…offers rather little in the way of sculpture, but of that there is one outstanding work, Marilu Swett’s bronze MidWinter’s Tale,. Almost figurative-strongly suggesting a lower abdomen and thighs, perhaps seen in the middle of a leap- this gorgeously textured, strangely poised abstraction carries an inexplicable message of laughter and rue.”

 

     –William Craig, Valley (Newport, NH) News, Sept.18, 1997

 

“Woods Piece was inspired by its original site, the Bradley Palmer State Park in Topsfield, and by the fact that Swett had recently moved out of an industrial, cement-dominated environment to a greener one. ‘I was mesmerized by the green’, she recalls. ‘The pieces are a response to the vegetation…’ Atop each stake is an organic bronze form, elusive, resembling a pod or a calla lily’s curl, but nothing you can pin down…”

 

     –Christine Temin, The Boston Globe, 1995

 

“The most arresting works on display are the sculptures. Perhaps three-dimensional objects are easier to comprehend because we are three-dimensional beings. Or perhaps the works in this exhibit are just plain fun.

Marilu Swett offers an assortment of yard-sprinklers, shower heads, nozzles, spigots, and several unidentifiable objects in her Garden. These found objects and cast bronze items sway gently on steel rods, creating a whimsical landscape. Part of the magical attraction of Swett’s Weights and Measures is the challenge of identifying what the cast objects represent.

There’s the obvious measuring cup, the set of spoons, calipers, and some other familiar stuff- but what’s that half-cone thing with holes in it?”

 

     –Leon Nigrosh, The Worcester Phoenix, 1994

 

“Marilu Swett’s wall of 21 imaginative hand tools also hinges on a single concept,-in this case, converting familiar objects into ones that defy recognition and utility. A jagged-toothed saw with a handle painted a luxurious lapis trails off in a whimsical spiral. What appears at first to be a pair of gardening shears tapers into a strip of metal capped by an outdoor faucet.

Bristles and hooks and even a strangely organic brown sack crop up in unlikely places. Tactile and sculptural, the resulting tools- which range from lighthearted to sinister- force us to look anew at the objects we use to perform routine tasks.”

 

     –Joanne Silver, The Boston Herald, 1990

 

“Marilu Swett’s Buoy and Gothic, wall hung pieces made up of fisherman’s buoys and agricultural tools; art made of found objects is nothing new. But three-dimensional works that have as strong a graphic, and even painterly, presence as these are arresting.”

 

     –Charles Bonenti, The Berkshire Eagle, 1989

 

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