Artist StatementIn my paintings, I am mainly concerned with ideas of time and place as filtered through Old and New World experience. Often using the vocabulary of old master paintings, I like to summon competing images from centuries of art history and weave them into a complex conceptual fabric, using both European and indigenous elements. My long-term "Vanitas Fare" project explores what I call “the problem of hope” through two contrasting notions of time: the mythos that art might transcend the limits of time, versus the message that "all is vanity" here on earth. Interspersed with images of ruins and artifacts from the Christian and classic past, my works extensively employ materials and formats -- vestiges of identity and faith -- that were historically transposed from Old to New, and that embody our conflicted cultural expectations.
William Swetcharnik's architectonic still-life, figure, and interior paintings have been exhibited since 1977 in galleries and museums across the Americas and Europe. Having begun his career as a traditional portraitist, his work subsequently evolved toward representations of the human condition in the context of history. In the 1980s and 1990s, he began to lecture and develop social projects to help artists and artisans in poor communities, beginning in Central America (Latin American Art Resource Project) and expanding to help sustainable development projects worldwide (Art Resource Traditions). During that period, he also began to use indigenous materials in his own art, the sale of which helps sustain his social projects. Among other educational activities, Swetcharnik has served as an Arts America Fellow in Latin America and Eastern Europe, and has taught courses and workshops for art schools and universities in the United States, Europe, and a number of Latin American countries. His professional distinctions include Fulbright fellowships in Spain and Honduras (1987-89, 95), residency fellowships at Yaddo, in Saratoga Springs, New York (1987, 93), and a Cintas Fellowship (1985). With initial help from the Cintas Foundation, he withdrew from commercial gallery affiliations in 1985 in order to concentrate on his long-term "Vanitas Fare" project. Since then, he has exhibited only in regional museums and art centers. For more information on William Swetcharnik, his art and social projects, please see www.swetcharnik.com.