Jen Swearington

Jen Swearington

Jen Swearington                                                            South Carolina

MFA, Fibers, Savannah College of Art and Design, 2000

BFA, Sculpture, Pratt Institute, 1997


Jen Swearington grew up in rural Indiana, drawing since she was little. She studied fine art and art history, earning a BFA in Sculpture from Pratt Institute in 1997 and MFA in Fibers from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2000, spent a year as Artist in Residence at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, and then settled in Asheville, NC. In 2003, she started sewing original apparel pieces and printing her illustrations on them, founding Jennythreads Studio, by which she has since made an independent, creative living. In 2013, her comprehensive how-to manual, “Printing on Fabric: Techniques with Screens, Stencils, Inks and Dyes” was published by Lark Crafts. Beginning spring of 2018, Swearington traveled abroad for several month-long art residencies in Bulgaria, Mexico, Finland, and Greece. On these adventures, she filled sketchbooks with drawings and created collapsible carousel pop-up books that could travel back in her carry-on suitcase. In March 2020, Swearington relocated to continue her creative journey on the coast. She developed her papercut illustrations from books to intricate dioramas built in vintage suitcases and mirrors, culminating in her “New Histories,” solo exhibition at the Gibbes Museum of Art in 2021. Swearington is also an avid trail runner and SC Journeyman Beekeeper whose small apiary on James Island produce Jennybees honey. 


In March 2020, I relocated to start a new life chapter, bringing my sense of wonder and discovery to this area, with its rich, complicated history and fascinating low country landscape. Exploration leads to inspiration, so I wander and draw from direct observation; downtown I sketch wrought iron gates, 300-year-old tombstones, colonial portraits of generals, and Civil War era daguerreotypes. Living near Folly Beach, I am fascinated by the ever-changing tidal marshlands and ethereal Morris Island Lighthouse always present on the distant horizon during my morning run. I arrange this collected imagery into evocative, thoughprovoking new compositions by layering ink illustrations with intricate papercut patterns. This series began in 2018 with collapsible carousel books, named for their ability to configure in the round, and it has recently evolved into sculptures set into castaway suitcases and mirrors, each with its own mystery in the patina. I continue to explore and create new histories in this magical world.


Read More