Paul Swenbeck

2013 Pew Fellow

1/11: Paul Swenbeck, 2013 Pew Fellow. Photo by Colin Lenton.
2/11: Paul Swenbeck, from the Mandragora series, 2008. Glazed terracotta, resin, 18 x 13 x 13”. Photo courtesy of the artist.
3/11: Paul Swenbeck, Mocha Dick, 2009, Invisible World installation view. Ceramic, resin, aluminum foil, photographs. Photo courtesy of the artist.
4/11: Paul Swenbeck, Mocha Dick, 2009, Invisible World installation view. Ceramic, resin, aluminum foil, photographs. Photo courtesy of the artist.
5/11: Paul Swenbeck, Born in the Sky, 2009. Egyptian paste and polymer resin, 19 x 17 x 24”. Photo courtesy of the artist.
6/11: Paul Swenbeck, Untitled (from the Starsprout series), 2009. Egyptian paste and polyester resin, 19 x 17 x 24”. Photo courtesy of the artist.
7/11: Paul Swenbeck, Dor and Oranur, 2011. Glazed ceramic, plinths stretched in silver Lycra. Photo courtesy of the artist.
8/11: Paul Swenbeck, Dor and Oranur (detail of Parasitic Rider), 2011. Glazed ceramic, 18 x 21 x 15”. Photo courtesy of the artist.
9/11: Paul Swenbeck, Dor and Oranur (detail of Crinoid Group), 2011. Glazed ceramic, 55 x 50 x 50”. Photo courtesy of the artist.
10/11: Paul Swenbeck, Dor and Oranur (detail of Archeocya), 2011. Glazed ceramic, 60 x 22 x 28”. Photo courtesy of the artist.
11/11: Paul Swenbeck, Dor and Oranur (detail of Silurian Sentinel), 2011. Glazed ceramic, 85 x 30 x 30”. Photo courtesy of the artist.

“I present artworks as tools or artifacts to communicate with creatures that populate a spirit world.”

Originally from Salem, Massachusetts, Paul Swenbeck (b. 1967) developed a fascination with the macabre and occult at an early age, which has filtered into his idiosyncratic sculptures, paintings, photographs, and installations. He graduated with a degree in ceramics from Massachusetts College of Art in 1991. In recent years, he has primarily filtered his creative energy into working with clay, which provides an alchemical experience that is central to his inspiration. “I fully embrace the spirit of chance and loss of control when working with clay,” he says. “I set forth to create objects that are surprising to myself and visually rich in detail.” Swenbeck’s work is on permanent display at the West Collection, Oaks, PA and The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York. He has been included in exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania; Fleisher/Ollman Gallery and Vox Populi in Philadelphia; and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, among other venues. He is the Chief Preparator at Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art. He plans to continue an ongoing investigation of fossil forms and to visit various fossil sites and house museums as a basis of inspiration for future work in sculpture.


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