Swoon: An Exclusive Interview with A.I.M.O.

First let me say what an honor it is to be able to interview you as I have admired your work for so many years. Your spirit is kind and your soul is generous. Your work always engages me which I think is a goal of many artists. Cheers to you and all the effort you put into helping make this world a better place to live in.

Heliotrope Foundation, Braddock Tiles and so much more. You work endlessly to better different areas of the world, including our own. Please let us in on what was the impetus to make you want to better other communities?

I guess there are a few different impulses. One is just that as I learned certain skill sets, I found I wanted to share them. As me and my creative community learned to solve different problems, i had the sense that part of our role in learning was sharing. As well there is something which is I think like a instinctive form of the Boddissatva vow, which is the vow to dedicate one’s life to the alleviation of suffering of all fellow beings. I’m in no way a Boddisatva, nor are most of the folks in my community, but I think that everyone has a strand of this in us innately, as a part of our humanity, we have an inherent and powerful need to participate in the betterment of the world around us.

You create so many portraits of the people you meet along your travels. There are so many people whom have impacted your art. Can you tell us about a few people that stand out in your work?

Well, since you and I have talked about unconventional things, I’ll go ahead and share one of the more unconventional ones. Once I was riding motorbikes through India, and it got dark faster than we expected, and my partner and I had to stop at a farm along the road and ask permission of the farmers to pitch a tent in their yard. Somehow with no common language, we made it work. During the night I dreamed of the incredibly beautiful wizened face of an old man. When I awoke in the morning, the man was there, outside the tent! He was the grandfather of the family who we hadn’t seen the night before, but since he appeared so clearly in my dream, I took it as a sign that I had to draw him.

Are you used to large installations in museums and such by now? Your latest show at Allouche Gallery had many larger pieces. What mediums do you use to create those enormous sculpture like pieces? They are so textural.

I’m certainly getting more experienced at it than I was 10 plus years ago when it was still just a theory. Most of the sculptures start with the prints, and so are made with wood, cut to and faceted together. After that i bring in fabric, cut paper, paint, sometimes found objects. Anything that seems to work.

Your wheatpastes seem to have a life of their own when I visit them. Do you think it is out of respect that other artists know not to destroy them? They seem to have spiritual powers to me!

Thanks!! Well, being out on the street, they are always up for getting painted over and often they do. I think the reason they last as long as they do is when people connect to the portraits. The most important thing for me with drawing the portraits is to show a deep form of looking which sees into the incredible beauty of each person. If I can convey that, and share that with people, I’ve done my job.

What is next for you? Upcoming shows?

I’m working on a retrospective for the CAC in Cincinnati. Going back in time that far is scary enough, but on top of it I’m making the central sculpture of the show an exploration of my deepest fears. I’m freaking out! But trying to hold it together.

If our readers want to donate to your foundation, where can they find out more information?

Thanks for asking! They can donate at Heliotrope’s website, which is www.heliotropefoundation.org

Where can they find more about you and your work? Instagram? FB? Website?

swoonstudio.org/

instagram.com/swoonhq/

facebook.com/SwoonStudio/

IG: @swoonhq

Photo of Swoon and myself taken by DJ Teal Camner at the event for Brooklyn Street Art x The Heliotrope Foundation.

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