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Since 2007, our friend Swoon, the artist and activist who last showed at the ICA in 2012, has been working to reinvent a rundown church in North Braddock, Pennsylvania, as a “work of art, a center for creativity, and a place for new beginnings.”
Swoon, whose work often dovetails with social and humanitarian projects, fell in love with the church, slated for demolition that year, while working on an art installation in the former steel town (also poignantly depicted in the work of LaToya Ruby Frazier).
Working with the local community, the artist collective Transformazium, and more than 70 artists, Swoon founded the Braddock Tiles print project, which plans to provide the church with a much-needed new roof by creating 20,000 ceramic tiles—by hand. To do so, they’ll build a working ceramics studio in the church and hire and train local young people to create the tiles. Ultimately the church will open as a community center and Braddock Tiles will will function as a local business making and selling interior and decorative tiles and partnering with artists to release signature editions.
One of the foremost street and activist artists working today, Swoon is deeply engaged with social, humanitarian, and community-building efforts in both art and life. Past projects include sailing SWOON boats created from reclaimed materials with groups of artists and friends during the 2009 Venice Biennale and collaborating on sustainable building in Haiti in the wake of the devastating 2010 earthquake.
Support the Braddock Tiles Kickstarter—ending Nov. 12—and get a Braddock tile, a limited-edition artwork, or a tour of Swoon’s studio, or provide one of the kilns that will make the business possible.