ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Typically you have to travel across the Caribbean to visit the Bahamas, but not on Friday because the Bahamas is coming to St. Pete. From the music to the drinks to the culture, it will all be happening at The Museum of Fine Arts on Friday.
The dance party coincides with their newest exhibit, Gio Swaby: Fresh Up.
“I didn’t grow up going to museums or galleries, I didn’t visit any museums until I think I was 19 years old, so I found art a little bit later,” said Swaby.
Walking through her first solo exhibit, Swaby said she isn’t just proud of her artwork; she’s proud to be from the Bahamas.
“One of the greatest honors to be able to represent my country in this way,” said Swaby. “Up to the day before the opening, I was like, ‘is this really happening.’”
The exhibit, co-organized by MFA and the Art Institute of Chicago, is characterized as love letters to Black women. It will be traveling to Chicago next year.
“They are about showing one’s vulnerability but also showing off one's personal style,” said Curator of Contemporary Art Katherine Pill.
Each work has a piece of clothing that just pops off the canvass due to its color scheme.
“That definitely is a Bahamian thing. People wear like green pants, yellow shirt, orange shoes, color is such a big part of our lives that I really wanted to infuse this exhibition with that,” said Swaby.
Just about every textile portrait represents a friend or family member in the artist’s life or, in some cases, Swaby herself.
She is particularly proud of a wall where portraits of her three older sisters are on display.
“I wanted to be able to capture them in a way that really felt authentic and true to who they are,” said Swaby.
Swaby said a Bahamian-themed dance party named after her exhibit, Fresh Up, is the perfect way to promote her vision.
“Fresh up is a term from the Bahamas, and it just means, 'when you have on a really nice outfit, a fresh haircut,' you’re looking really good,” said Swaby.
The dancing begins Friday night at 7 p.m. Then, on Saturday, visitors are encouraged to send in photos of their own family members to be made into their own textile portraits, just like Swaby's.
For more information on tickets and times for either of these events, visit the Museum of Fine Arts St. Pete here.