High school senior Rebecca Swartwood sits casually on an artist’s stool, remarkably poised and well-spoken. She exudes an inner confidence, without the bravado often associated with youth. She brims with enthusiasm at the life she sees ahead of her, with art an integral but not overriding part of a well-considered career path.
“I live in Vineyard Haven, and am happily a native Islander,” says the graduate of the Tisbury School. “For three and a half years, I have been taking art classes every semester. I became serious about art in high school with pottery and sculpture, especially with Mr. [Scott] Campbell.”
In this environment, she has produced a significant body of work. “Right now I really like mixed media, acrylic and collage,” she says. She also has recently dabbled in darkroom photography. But looking ahead, Ms. Swartwood sees herself concentrating in one medium, most likely oil painting and specifically figures and portraits.
She has submitted college applications. “I want to do art on the side,” she says. ”I don’t need pressure to do art. I’m not crazy to impress people.
“I see myself as an English teacher and a working artist ... [and] I do think one day I will compile enough adventures to make a book. Writing is something I would like to devote more time to in the future as well.” Her long-range goal, and we do mean long-range, is to, “retire and do art.”
Queried about the challenges she faces in art, she pauses. “It hasn’t been a challenge. I haven’t had to deal with people looking at my art up to now. It’s been closed off and only for my eyes.”
Now she eagerly faces the challenge of audience appreciation in the opening of a solo exhibition at Featherstone Center for the Arts.
The show introduces Ms. Swartwood’s extensive portfolio, which consists of mixed media, oil and ceramics. Her favorite pieces are Mermaid and Journey. As the high school’s art and design department chairman Paul Brissette says, “Rebecca Swartwood is an observer, who very creatively expresses ideas in a variety of visual media.”
What led to this show? “I had a bunch of pieces, and thought, I should just have a show and have some closure. I haven’t shown a lot of people.” But those who have seen her work were very enthused. “I was excited over their reaction,” she says, “because [the works are] so personal.”
Her primary mentor at the high school is Scott Campbell, who described her as “bright, energetic, compassionate and genuinely well-rounded.
“For four years I have watched this young lady develop artistically, academically and personally into a mature individual, ready in every way for her life as an artist,” Mr. Campbell said.
Opening reception is free from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 1, at Featherstone in Oak Bluffs. Show continues through Tuesday, March 4, daily 2:30 to 4 p. m.