Can you give us a brief biography of yourself? Where did you study? When did you start your artistic activity? Why?
I’m from a small town in Southern Illinois, and my parents were both teachers. I remember being interested in arts & crafts at a very young age. I would go through my mom’s classroom craft box every day after school, and would also raid my grandma’s sewing room crafts anytime we were at their house. I’m very fortunate that art has always been an innate interest of mine. After highschool I wasn’t confident in pursuing fine art as a career and pursued a degree in Mass Communications with a minor in art. I then pursued photography for several years and did weddings as a source of income. I only truly began pursuing painting in 2021 when I used oil paint for the first time. I’m mostly self-taught (with help from youtube).
Inheritance, Sydney Swisher, Oil on Fabric
Where do you draw inspiration from?
For years I focused on photography and was deeply inspired by Gregory Crewdson and Todd Hido. When I began focusing on painting in 2021, I was influenced by Kehinde Wiley’s use of pattern and was floored by the work of Jenna Gribbon. Her loose and confident strokes are so far from what I feel I’m capable of, and it gave me a new way to think about using the material. After discovering fabric as a canvas option I found the work of Megan Lewis and loved her use in exposing the fabric pattern.
What is your connection with your art style?
I feel like the settings I create are heavily influenced by my initial start in photography. I’m focused on the use of light and space and want the setting to read as a memory. I like scenes that look cinematic and have the color grading of film. I want to continue experimenting with textiles and working on having a more impressionistic style to my painting.
If It Comes to You, It Means Something, Sydney Swisher, Oil on Fabric
What are the messages you are giving with your artworks ?
I love when someone feels like they know the location of one of my paintings. I hope to create a feeling of memory and nostalgia, but none of these places are real. The settings are ai images based on a prompt description of a childhood memory. I want my paintings to remind you of a previous time - hopefully to linger on who you were then vs who you are now. They are based on settings from my childhood being raised in the midwestern United States - places that seem to repeat themselves throughout this area.
Who are the artists you have inspired?
I’d love to know I inspired someone! I hope my use of painting on fabric has prompted someone to try this technique for themselves.
Any particular reason materials you are using for your artworks?
My grandma had a collection of fabric I loved looking through - many older women in our area sew and have similar stashes of material. Knowing your loved one made your clothing, a throw pillow, curtains, or other household item gave these pieces a more sentimental value. When I thrift this fabric I search for patterns that remind me of a place I hold in my memory. I feel like seeing a certain pattern can make me visualise a time and place - I want to try and paint the effect of “seeing through” the fabric to that specific place.
Silent Guidance, Sydney Swisher, Oil on Fabric
How do you begin to design a work? Do you have long preparation work or is it rather spontaneous?
My process is typically the same every time. I’m working from vague memories I hold of settings/places in my childhood. I’ll either have the idea after sourcing a piece of fabric, or I’ll try to find fabric that seems to fit this memory. I then use midjourney to describe this setting and try to create a place that fits my vision. I love that none of my paintings are of real places - they are all more of a general idea of a place using ai to decipher it visually.
See more of her expectational artworks on her website