‘Swoon’ing for Haiti with a sculpture show about the earthquake

The Brooklyn Paper
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After Haiti’s devastating earthquake, a celebrated Brooklyn street artist wanted to make a difference — by making art.

Brooklyn artist Swoon, known for her Robinson Crusoe-esque floating boat exhibit in the East River in 2008, returned to Williamsburg this month for her latest installation: a prototype shelter for homeless Haitians.

She designed the durable domed structure, made from wood and gravel sandbags, after watching disaster-stricken scenes in Haiti earlier this year on the news.

“It’s a building technique that is low-impact, easy to build, and environmentally friendly,” said Swoon. “The sandbags can be filled with earth on the site and stay low to the ground.”

The adobe sculpture is headlining an exhibition that also features Kathy Bruce, Ursula Clarke, Rob de Oude, Sarah Fonzi, Nathan Slate Joseph, Howard Kalish, and Scott Piscitelli, whose sculptures dot the state park’s landscape. The structures, made primarily from metal, cement, and wood, evoke themes surrounding female fertility, industrial decay, and the powerful effect of nature in our lives.

When the exhibition closes, Swoon will travel with a team of artists and volunteers to Haiti to construct the adobe huts, which will provide shelter for disaster stricken regions of the country.

Swoon characterizes the project as a natural evolution of her art, which began with realistic life-size wheatpaste prints and paper cutouts of figures, mostly friends and family in 1999.

“You bring the same lines, forms and concepts and you get the dimensions,” said Swoon. “You just have to see it. You’ll see it and you know.”

Ironically, Swoon’s installation moves beyond reflecting environmental destruction toward actually doing something about it.

Williamsburg Waterfront Sculpture Exhibition in East River State Park (N. Eighth Street and Kent Avenue in Williamsburg) through June 6. For info, visit

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