Julianna Swaney likes claws, be they wolf, fox, or female. Her small, fine-lined, fairy-tale drawings and watercolors are inspired by her fascination with the Victorian era’s “weird mixture of manners and suppression, and the undercurrent of oddity and fancy. Also, just aesthetically,” she adds, “I adore the clothing.” The influence of Edward Gorey is clear, at least in Swaney’s depiction of garments and the twinkle of menace that pervades her work, but the similarity ends there. Swaney’s figures have a curious, slightly Scandinavian cast, and are more intricately rendered and nuanced than Gorey’s—serene whether in the midst of an apocalyptic meteor shower or a demon attack. The influence of Kiki Smith is equally evident, in the feminist spark that enlivens Swaney’s female figures, who refuse to bend to ill-behaved beasts or a society that dictates a lady not veil her face in bees. While Swaney cites the Victorian age as a muse, the Michigan native, who re-rooted in Portland two years ago, also draws inspiration from “being surrounded by so many fantastic and supportive artists that I admire—so many creative things are happening.” We, too, are inspired by what’s happening in the contemporary art world, and Tin House is blessed to be centered in two of its hotbeds—Brooklyn and Portland. We’re thrilled that, through our covers, we’re able to showcase some of the most original and exciting art being made today.
–Elissa Schappell, Tin House Magazine Editor-at-Large
Check out more of Swaney’s work online at rareredbird.blogspot.com.