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Swoon’s “Thalassa” Rises at DIA Detroit; Gallery Show, Mural to Come

Posted on September 29, 2016

Emerging from the clouded seas in the wake of the BP Oil spill of 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico, the sea deity Thalassa first rose in the New Orleans Museum of Art in the summer of 2011.  Street Artist Swoon remembers the disaster and her response to the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

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Swoon. “Thalassa” Installation in progress. Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, Michigan. September 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“She came from the gulf oil spill – even though she’s one of those pieces that people think of as being so optimistic.” The street artist eventually did find it optimistic as well, but the devastation of the air, water, sand, animal life and people’s individual economics was a lot to bear. “I am an Ocean baby,” she says of her upbringing on Daytona Beach.

“I am a Florida kid and an ocean person – and it was such an intensely emotional event for everyone. So when they asked me to do a piece I was only thinking about the ocean and so Thalassa came out of that.” Of course it wasn’t only in the museum – Thelassa also appeared wheat-pasted on the street and became a part of the family of recurring characters in other artworks and shows.

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Swoon. “Thalassa” Installation in progress. Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, Michigan. September 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This week, four years after Thalassa’s initial debut into museum life and public life, she takes up residence at The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA Detroit) and already the lobby of this main entrance has been clogged with skyward looking guests, many of them seeing Swoons’ work for the first time.

Here it does feel celebratory, with the cloud of paper, mylar and fabric ephemera buffeting in the wake of the mother of all sea creatures.

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Swoon at work making Thalassa’s dress. “Thalassa” Installation in progress. Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, Michigan. September 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Here at the Woodward Avenue entrance Detroit visitors are feeling hopeful as well, with plans for the new rapid transit line just outside the museum, past Rodin’s “The Thinker”. Inside as well the DIA’s new director Salvador Salort-Pons is said to be breathing new life into this huge encyclopedic institution, with new acquisitions from artists like Mickelene Thomas and an upcoming rocking exhibit into which Detroit native Jack White figures prominently.

As Detroit is pushing itself to rise from economic devastation, Thalassa and her quick 20 foot tall elevation at the entrance are perhaps symbols of artists at the forefront of recovery. How apt that an artist from the street is representing new generations from inside the museum, using a regenerative symbol that speaks of our ecological systems and our responsibility to protect, not simply ravage, the Earth and the seas.

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Swoon. “Thalassa” Installation in progress. Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, Michigan. September 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

With a bosom of sea creatures and a curvaceous series of lines that undulate and ripple outward, Thalassa is on view until next March. While here in Detroit Swoon is preparing for a new show at DIA patron Anthony Curis’s gallery downtown on October 8th at The Library Collective.

The two indoor exhibits will be accompanied by a community mural project in Detroit’s Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood, and the artist herself is speaking at the museum this Saturday.

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Swoon. “Thalassa” Installation in progress.  An assistant helps with Thalassa’s dress. Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, Michigan. September 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Swoon. “Thalassa” Installation in progress. Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, Michigan. September 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Swoon. “Thalassa” Installation in progress. Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, Michigan. September 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Swoon. “Thalassa” Installation in progress. An assistant helps with the installation. Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, Michigan. September 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Swoon. “Thalassa” Installation in progress. Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, Michigan. September 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Swoon. “Thalassa” Installation in progress. Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, Michigan. September 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Swoon. “Thalassa” Installation in progress. An assistant helps with the installation. Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, Michigan. September 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Swoon. “Thalassa” Installation in progress. Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, Michigan. September 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Swoon at work on Thalassa’s installation. “Thalassa” Installation in progress. Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, Michigan. September 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Swoon. “Thalassa” Installation in progress. Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, Michigan. September 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Swoon. “Thalassa” Installation in progress. Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, Michigan. September 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Swoon. “Thalassa” Installation in progress. Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, Michigan. September 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

Swoon’s Thalassa will be on view at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) Woodward Ave. Lobby from Saturday, Sept. 24 through March 19, 2017. Additionally the artist will hold an artist lecture at DIA at 1:00 pm on October 1st. The talk is free with museum admission. Click HERE for more information.

 

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