Gio Swaby: Fresh Up at the PEM

Express Yourself students visited the Peabody Essex Museum to explore Gio Swaby’s multidisciplinary artwork. Swaby’s “Fresh Up” encouraged the youth to consider their personal style and how themes such as liberation, strength and resilience play into the way they express themselves. In the portraits she creates, Swaby uses a variety of fabrics and textiles to embody the connection between Blackness and womanhood. Youth and staff alike brought a new appreciation for the creative process back to the studio where they embark on their own journey inspired by Swaby’s portraiture. 

Fresh up” is a Bahamian phrase often used as a way to compliment someone’s style or confident way of being. Swaby remarks, “It holds a lot of positivity and joy. It also speaks to the tone of confidence and power that I want to create with these works.” – Gio Swaby