Born in Minneapolis, MN, Swanson received her M.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 2011 and B.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2008. Her work has been exhibited within the United States at the RISD Museum of Art, Camera Club of New York, and San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, and internationally at Arsenal Institute for Film and Video in Berlin, Germany; Media Arts Gallery in Warsaw, Poland; and in South Korea at the Jeju Museum of Contemporary Art.
Swanson was a National Endowment for the Arts John Renna Art Scholar in 2008-2010, a Jacob K. Javits Fellow in 2010-2011, and received a Wynn Newhouse Award from the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation in 2013. Her work is held in collection at the Jeju Museum of Contemporary Art in Jeju, South Korea. She lives and works in New York, NY.
Laura Swanson is an artist examining representation of the body on display, working across various media, including drawing, installation, photography, sculpture, and video. Pulling from multiple sources—personal experience, critical theory, art history, advertising, popular culture, sociology—her visual language is simultaneously playful and serious, simple and intricate, inviting and disruptive. Her work centers around a critical exploration of the behavior of looking at difference: how physical difference is visually depicted and objectified in culture, the consequent behaviors that cause discrimination in everyday life, and the psychological effects of being socially marginalized.
Much of her work questions the dominant cultural bias toward the sameness, size, and symmetry of things, especially people. Swanson often references the seemingly theatrical spectacle of her short statured body situated next to her six-foot-tall husband. Compelled to remove their bodies from objectification, she anthropomorphizes ready-made objects and deconstructs conventional portraiture to simultaneously create an image of solidarity and to examine the desire to look at physical difference. The safe-guarding of individual agency is asserted in a series of self-portraits, where she conceals her identity, and with fantastical dwelling spaces, which provide refuge to read critical theory in pursuit of intellectual liberation.
- Born: Minneapolis, MN, USA
- Based: New York, NY, USA