Caledonia Curry (Swoon)


Memento Mori by Caledonia Curry

Memento Mori 2, 2016. Block print, coffee stain, spray paint, and gouache on hand-cut mylar. Courtesy of the artist.

Audio description 

“I want to break through our society’s images of broken, damaged and suffering people. Allow for the possibility that every person no matter how far gone they seem, has a fragileness and humanity like yours.” —Caledonia Curry

Caledonia Curry unites art and activism through her expansive multimedia practice. Her recent work has been focused on the relationship of trauma and addiction. Curry draws on her personal history growing up in an opioid-addicted family as a catalyst for connection and healing.

Memento Mori was originally shown in the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Oaxaca, Mexico. This piece was part of an altar-like installation centered around a portrait of the artist’s mother created shortly after she died from lung cancer. 


Still from Cicada by Caledonia Curry

Cicada, 2019. Stop motion animation, approx. 17 minutes, still. Courtesy of the artist.

Audio description 

Curry’s first stop-motion animation premiered at Deitch Projects in New York in 2019. Stemming from therapy work she was doing to heal from childhood trauma, the animation process was a way to locate demons within herself and look them in the eye.

Along with her familiar woodcut portraits and drawings, she built backdrops and puppets to create a sequence of abstract narratives that layer upon each other. Her personal story acts as a central narrative, but it is infused with elements drawn from classical mythology. Recurring motifs such as birth, divination, endurance, suffering, strength, and healing interweave and unfold throughout the film.

The cicada insect is notable for spending much of its life underground, only emerging into adulthood after thirteen to seventeen years. In Cicada the artist expresses a similar ability, one shared by all of us, to molt and burst through one’s former self in a cycle of self-realization and self-healing.

About the Artist

Caledonia Curry grew up in rural Florida. She studied at Pratt Institute and has exhibited in New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, and Los Angeles, while her public pieces can be found in cities across the world. Her work is in the collections of many museums including the Museum of Modern Art, the Tate, the São Paulo Museum of Art, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. In 2015, Curry founded the Heliotrope Foundation to support her multiple community-based projects.