In this current body of work, Swanson is highly critical of his own background and upbringing in Texas. The tightwad atmosphere of religion, cheap water parks, “America First” Christmas cards, and obesity cultivated a backdrop for paintings more primed to examine the American family unit the way a forensic analyst examines a plane crash or a crime scene. In the vein of restaurants where screaming children eat free on Thursdays, and little league games where drunk parents ask one another if “you think you’re better than me”, Thorns in the Manger navigates what it means to pursue the image of luxury and familial happiness. Swanson utilizes classical painting techniques paired with mixed media textures reminiscent of the American home. His work seeks not only to depict a sense of restrictive high-culture, but stage the scene of the dinner tables and childhood bedrooms where familial chaos and disaster happen.
Henry Swanson (b. 1993) grew up in Dallas, Texas. He graduated with a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design (2016). The artist has featured work in a number of solo and group exhibitions both in the U.S. and internationally with his most recent work shown in Marbella, Spain.