The Detroit Institute of Arts hosted Caledonia “Callie” Curry, also known as Swoon, for an artist lecture on Oct. 1.
The New York street artist spoke about the history of her work as well as “Thalassa,” the massive paper sculpture installed in the Woodward entrance of the museum.
Curry also mentioned Detroit’s influence on her art, as she has traveled to Detroit to work on several projects in the past.
“Every time I’ve been here, I’ve really been struck by the genuineness and the presence of people of this city,” she said. “I was trying to think a little bit specifically about what it would mean to speak in Detroit.”
Curry focused her lecture around art as a form of healing and recovery and stressed using creativity to foster change.
“[I was] thinking about art as a tool for healing, and I know that with the current history of Detroit and where it’s at, I think that there are a lot of people who also probably have healing and recovery in their minds as well,” she said.
Curry said she began painting at the age of 10 as a way to escape the everyday problems of being raised in a household plagued by heroin addiction.
“[I] got this incredible amount of self-confidence and positive reinforcement, which it turns out was precisely what I needed at that moment, and so immediately art became the central core of my life.”
When Curry moved to New York to study at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn at the age of 19, she said she began to see that art was not limited to the canvas as she had once been taught.
“My concept of art making had been like a Van Gogh painting in a book at the library,” she said. “Even things that were happening in the ‘60s were new to me when I got to New York.”
After seeing these new art forms, Curry said she began to create street installations—making her art a part of the city itself—in a process she called the calls the “democratization of public spaces.”
Since art had become such a stabilizing force in her own life, Curry said she realized a “deep need and desire to work with people in their process of recovery and be a part of that process of recovery.”
Curry founded the Heliotrope Foundation, a nonprofit organization which helps heal and rebuild communities suffering from social and natural crises using creative techniques.
Curry has a new show planned at the Library Street Collective called “The Light After” which will open Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. In addition, Curry has planned to participate in a community mural project with local artists in the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood on Detroit’s East Side.
Curry’s “Thalassa” sculpture will be on display at the DIA through March 19.