artist bio

selfCarly Swenson is an intuitive painter originally from northern Montana. She spent more than a decade working primarily as a mixed media artist before shifting to acrylics. Swenson received a BFA in Visual Arts with an Art History Minor from Bemidji State University. During and after university, she traveled and lived abroad, this included studying in China, traveling throughout Europe and living both in England and the Azores.

Exposure to other cultures combined with her passion for art history influences and inspired her work. This is especially evident in her earlier mixed media work, playing off themes of the feminine ideal, gender roles, and beauty expectation. Swenson’s love for various artistic mediums fueled this phase of her career.

As she evolved into an intuitive artist, Swenson’s work gained its own unique presence. Her art develops by embracing uncertainty and trusting the intrinsic creative process. This honest and raw approach results in vibrant works with an air of surrealism or dreamlike qualities. Viewers are invited to lose themselves, to mindfully engage with their own individual emotional responses and visual interpretations as they view the work.

Messy. Detailed. Colorful. Meaningful. Subtle. Restless. Energetic. Trivial. Tranquil. The ambiguous and contradictory nature of the human experience is mirrored in her work. Emerging shapes and patterns of lucidity fade into the background. Intentional structure can turn random. Color evokes emotions. Imagery provokes memory. That fleeting idea of who we are or who we’re supposed to be. Like our own perceptions of life, nearly understood then slipping away. Beauty formed from cacophony into a calming sense of peace. A precious moment only for yourself. This moment. And the it’s gone. Again.  

Swenson’s work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions throughout the US and internationally. Her freelance writing and mixed media journals have been published in nationally distributed art magazines. She has facilitated art workshops for various age groups. Swenson’s work is also included in the permanent art collections of Angra do Heroismo Museum and Bemidji State University (Bemidji, MN). Currently, she lives in St. Paul, MN with a smart little dog and a weird little cat. They’re nice.


3 thoughts on “artist bio

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  1. This is one of my fave pictures of you from the last year or so : ) so full of life with your cherries! “Life is like a bowl of cherries!” – just to quote a song.


  2. It’s harder to find tea drinkers here in England. Everyone is falling in love with Starbucks and Costa, leather sofas and skinny lattes. I look out of place asking for a cup of tea but I won’t be deterred.


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