Utica, NY is a post industrial city in in Upstate New York that has gained fame as the "City that Loves Refugees" by welcoming immigrants fleeing climate disasters, war zones and persecution from all parts of the world, providing English language classes & other other orientation programs to prepare them to become citizens. Likewise it's an active center for the "Black Lives Matter" movement with rallies that attract multi cultural participation.
Sylvia de Swaan is a Romanian born visual artist/photographer who has lived and worked in Mexico, Europe and the United States. She moved from New Orleans to Central New York in the late seventies and has had a multitude of involvements in the region and beyond, – among them as an internationally exhibited practicing artist; founding director of Sculpture Space, Inc.; independent curator; advocate for the arts; visiting faculty in the art department at Hamilton College and Pratt Institute; and recipient of grants, fellowships and prizes from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Aaron Siskind Foundation, ArtsLink, Light Work, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Austrian Ministry of Culture, Anderson Ranch Art Center, Society for Photographic Education, and Paris Photo, among others.
Sylvia de Swaan is a Romanian born fine art and documentary photographer who has lived and worked in Mexico, Europe and several parts of the United States. In the mid-1970s, she moved to a hamlet in Central New York with her second husband and son, where they bought a Greek revival crumbling mansion heated with wood and coal. When her marriage ended, she was invited to be the Director of Sculpture Space, a fledgling studio program for located in Utica, NY, which during her tenure earned an international reputation, an NYS Governors' Art award, and a MacArthur Award for its uniqueness. Sylvia has also been involved in the arts as an educator, curator, visual arts panelist and arts consultant.
In her personal work, Sylvia de Swaan engages in long-term self-assigned projects that explore themes of transience, loss, individual and collective memory and identity, the state of the world and the neighborhood where she lives. Her longest running body of work, titled "Return" was begun in early 1990 with a series of train journeys.