PBS American Portrait ~ Swoon: The House Our Families Built Arrives in New York




Swoon: The House our Families, exploring the beauty and the burden of our personal legacies. Built via pbs.org

Traveling around NYC, a 14 foot box truck has been transformed into a diorama-style outdoor sculpture that is a stage for both visual and performance art, inspired by domestic scenes and stories shared on this site. Follow Swoon: The House Our Families Built as it makes stops in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Prospect Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and Union Square. Take a look inside and behind the scenes below.

Painted portrait, interior detail. The House Our Families Built sculpture.via pbs.org

Caledonia Curry whose work appears under the name Swoon, uses intricate cutaways, painting, and performance to build a world that blends reality and wonder. As a roving, mobile sculpture, The House Our Families Built asks viewers to consider the legacy of ancestral histories – whether through traditions, trauma, or repeated narratives – and the ways in which they inform how we understand and talk about ourselves.

Work in progress, truck’s cab tilt’s forward to allow hand made wallpaper to be pasted to the box truck’s surfaces. via pbs.org

Curry and her long-time collaborator, Jeff Stark selected a diverse range of stories to express through this sculptural work.

These stories have been shaped into a 15 minute performance that transitions through emotions from humor to fear, tenderness to confrontation, encouraging people to ask where they’ve come from and what they can leave behind.

Interior view with painted portraits, picture frames, and furniture via pbs.org

When the sculpture is not staging a live performance, a recording of the audio will be played via directional speakers so passersby can always engage with the narrative.

Caledonia Curry paints details on the outside of the truck’s cab via pbs.org

Swoon: The House Our Families Built is one of three public art projects presented by PBS American Portrait. Each piece seeks to expand the reach of American Portrait, offering new perspectives on the journeys that brought us here and the paths that lie before us.

A game of chess, or a tough conversation? Painted portraits of domestic scenes are found throughout The House Our Families Built via pbs.org

At this unique moment in history, when we’re all urgently seeking to find connection with others and address complex issues around race, immigration and inclusion, it’s especially important to engage many voices, giving everyone the opportunity to share their story.

Through sculpture, portraiture, community engagement and performance, these projects reflect on what we learn from our history, what we honor in our heritage, and what we build as our legacy. All three pieces reflect on what we carry with us and what we leave behind.

Caledonia Curry,, aka Swoon via pbs.org

Caledonia Curry (b. 1977 in New London, Connecticut), whose work appears under the name Swoon, is widely known as the first woman to gain large-scale recognition in the male-dominated world of street art. While attending the Pratt Institute of Art in 1999, Callie began pasting her paper portraits to the sides of buildings around NYC with the goal of making art and the public space of the city more accessible. Her work has become known for marrying the whimsical to the grounded, often weaving in fairy-tales and myth, with a recurring motif of the sacred feminine. Elements of her own family history—and a legacy of her parents’ struggles with addiction and substance abuse— recur throughout her work.

Swoon: The House Our Families Built, exploring the beauty and the burden of our personal legacies will be located at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1 on January 30-31; In Prospect Park (Flatbush & Empire) on February 6-7; in Flushing Meadows Corona Park on February 13-14; and in Union Square at the North Plaza at 17th Street on February 21st.

The House Our Families Built was conceived and orchestrated by Caledonia Curry. Performances developed by Jeff Stark and Irene Lazaridis. Project management by Marshall LaCount, with fabrication by Orien McNeill and Zack Tucker.