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Latin American Art Resource Project



Summary of Projects








William Swetcharnik: A Biographical Profile

William Swetcharnik is a widely known North American artist with extensive experience in the use of historical painting media. Born in 1951 in Philadelphia, he and his wife Sara -- also an artist -- make their home in the countryside near Mount Airy, Maryland, close to Washington, DC. Now best known for his complex, allegorical, installation-oriented paintings, Swetcharnik began making his livelihood as a portraitist in 1977. In 1981, he began his series of allegorical paintings, still in progress, titled Vanitas Fare. In 1984, William Swetcharnik was profiled by American Artist magazine, and rapidly became the subject of numerous articles in newspapers, magazines, and literary reviews throughout the United States, Europe, Latin America, and the far East, as well as publications such as Who's Who in the arts and letters. By the mid-1980's, he was exhibiting in major galleries in New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, and had begun to receive a series of important grants and residency fellowships from the Stacey Foundation, the Maryland State Council for the Arts, the Millay Colony for the Arts, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Ragdale Foundation, and Yaddo. In 1985, with the help of a fellowship from the Cintas Foundation for artists of Cuban background, Swetcharnik withdrew from commercial gallery affiliations in order to concentrate on his Vanitas Fare project. Since then, he has never returned to the gallery marketplace, preferring rather to exhibit only in museums and other non-commercial settings.

William Swetcharnik's relationship to the world of academia, in which he serves from time to time as artist-in-residence and teacher of master classes and workshops, has also been highly selective. These choices have enabled him to pursue his artistic interests freely, as with two Fulbright grants to Spain to investigate ways to adapt Romanesque altarpiece configurations to his own installation art. Under the United States Arts America program, he also began to lecture widely in eastern Europe -- his other region of ancestry -- and Latin America. As he observed the difficulties experienced by struggling young artists in these regions, he became convinced that he might be able to help them remedy the problem of dependence on expensive imported art supplies, by showing them how to make their own from low-cost local materials. Thus with the initial help of a CIES Fulbright grant to Honduras in 1995, he established the program Latin American Art Resource Project. Since then, he has dedicated himself full-time to this program, teaching Latin American art educators in these techniques, many of which pertain to their own history, to enable them to propagate these methods in schools, rural artisan cooperatives, and urban mural projects. At the same time, he is also producing a series of paintings that demonstrate the uses of these native materials and methods.

Information about William Swetcharnik's paintings, including a number of reproductions, can be found in the Art Catalog section of this Web site.

See also: Résumé, William Swetcharnik

Sara Morris Swetcharnik: A Biographical Profile

Sara Morris Swetcharnik, Project Coordinator of the Latin American Art Resource Project, is a sculptor, painter and writer of narratives. She began her career with a firm foundation in representational studio arts. After a Fulbright grant to Spain (1987-89), she became increasingly interested in the artistic representation of animals.

Ms. Swetcharnik's hope is that her work will provide a heightened esthetic experience and also cultivate environmental concern among by appreication of the animals she portrays.At an exhibition of her portrayals of animals, a visitor looked at her bronze sculpture of a Komodo dragon yearling and commented:

"I have always hated reptiles, but this has a poetic grace that helps me to appreciate and care about this endangered species."

Information about her art work, including a number of examples, can be found in the Art Catalog section of this Web site and at the Jungletails: Animal Narratives and Sculptures site.

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