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.


Philadelphia Photo Arts Center presents a community exhibition comprised of crowd-sourced photographs from residents of Philadelphia’s South Kensington neighborhood.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Richard Maxwell, playwright and director, is the artistic director of New York City Players and a two-time Off-Broadway Theater Award winner.

Grants & Grantees

Named for Doylestown’s most famous son, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer James A. Michener, this museum was founded in 1988 with a regional focus, housing a collection of Pennsylvania impressionist paintings.

Michael Djupstrom premieres a new piano quintet at the 2016 National Cherry Blossom Festival, Beth Kephart and Caroline Lathan-Stiefel display works at the Philadelphia International Airport, and The New York Times reviews Chris Forsyth’s new album.

These catalogues provide insights from a variety of artists and scholars and delve into the projects’ artistic and community engagement processes.

On May 3, 2010, two of contemporary visual arts’ most distinguished figures visited the Center for a compelling conversation addressing the practice of painting, the making of painting exhibitions, and the relationship between the two.

The Legacy Center at Drexel holds the records of the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, which was established in 1850 as the first medical school for women in the United States.

Grants & Grantees

PAFA presented the most comprehensive exhibition of Peter Saul’s work to date, featuring over 50 artworks spanning from 1958 to present.

Grants & Grantees

Mark Goodwin is a visual artist and a 1995 Pew Fellow.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Kelly Kivland is an Assistant Curator at Dia Art Foundation, where she has been involved with exhibition and performance programs.

Musician and Pew Fellow Chris Madak on artistic motivation, the notion of “perfection,” and more.

Grants & Grantees

In 2007, the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 12 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 83 dance, music, theater, and visual arts organizations and practitioners in the greater Philadelphia region.