Marilu Swett, a greater Boston native, lives and works in Jamaica Plain, MA. She has exhibited throughout the United States in venues including The Peabody Essex Museum (Salem MA), The Sculpture Center (Cleveland, OH), The Center on Contemporary Art (Seattle, WA) and the Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts (Racine, WI). Outdoor venues include Byrdcliffe Arts Colony (Woodstock, NY), Chesterwood National Historic Site (Stockbridge, MA), Wentworth Coolidge Mansion Historic Site (Portsmouth, NH), and the Christian Science Center Plaza (Boston, MA). She has work in several corporate collections including Bank of America, Fidelity Investments, Meditech Corporation, and New England Biolabs. She is the recipient of a First Light award for the Town of Brookline (MA), a residency for iron casting at the Maryhill Art Museum (WA), a New England Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Sculpture, a Somerville (MA) Arts Council general support grant, and a Massachusetts Artists Foundation Studio Exchange grant.
Swett is an Associate Professor of Art at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, MA, and a member of Boston Sculptors Gallery.
ABOUT THE WORK
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 shifts between the layered space of her ink drawings and 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. Rumination about things afloat or beached, buried or layered over, untethered and unwoven, reflecting the energy and unexpected juxtapositions of coastal life, 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.