Johnny Swing was born in 1961 in Salisbury, Connecticut. In 1984, he completed his BS in fine arts from Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, Maine in 1986. He obtained his Class 1 Structural Steel Welding License #6120 in 1990. After spending the first part of his career in New York City’s Lower East Side, where he exhibited sculptures and furniture made with salvaged industrial materials, Swing moved to Vermont in 1995, where he maintains a workshop and farm.
Swing’s coin furniture, which is available through the New York gallery R & Company, can be found in the permanent collections of notable institutions around the world, including the Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, New York; Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England; and the Modernism Museum, Mount Dora, Florida. His work has also been on view in numerous museum exhibitions, including most recently the Indianapolis Museum of Art; LongHouse Reserve, East Hampton; and the Museum of Arts and Design, New York.
“Art making is a social responsibility. To honor the privilege of being an artist, there are expectations I have for my work. First, it needs to be entertaining; second, it needs to spark curiosity, so that it creates a dialogue with the viewer; and third, it should have a formal quality, so that when the work is or approximates furniture, it must be comfortable.
The dialogue around art is the most complex; most work achieves this dialogue in the visual/ethereal plane. My recent sculptures which function as furniture focus on the physical. During the interaction between the viewer and the work of art a sharing occurs, the senses are alerted, and a primal experience is generated by being on/in the work. A feeling of bliss, a surprise, a sense of oneness and belonging exists. After the initial shock of the experience comes the inevitable investigation on the part of the viewer, and what was once limited to the eyes is now open to the flesh.
I have made objects of refulgence, with money–the material that makes the world go round. These, flat hard shiny coins in a circular format, which have been touched, hoarded, traveled, and traded for goods and services are now released from their original burden. Assembled together to form the furniture they become part of the play in swirls, lines and patterns.” —J.S.