Rebekah Sweda focuses on interventions to the traditional, wheel-thrown ceramic vessel. She works in various clay bodies, using cuts and slices to activate empty space as material itself. She sees these cuts, slices, and chops as a way to open up new possibilities surrounding abstraction, interior, exterior, and empty space. About her work, she comments, “How much of a thing can be removed before it is no longer itself? How many of these altered individuals form a collective, or community? Grouping forms together into communities or isolating individuals stirs an emotional reaction. Repetition of shape or empty space reinforces ideas of shared space and connectivity. Creating more empty space can focus the form on absence or loss.”
Sweda received a dual degree in chemistry and studio art from Calvin University in 2018 and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2020. Later that year, she exhibited the solo show, Amphora, featuring works exploring the sense of loss she felt from the pandemic, and, in 2021, she exhibited The Derived Vessel, a solo show that finalized the ideas around her graduate work. Prior to joining HCCC as a resident artist, she completed a residency in Rome. She is the creator and founder of Sweda Studio, a ceramic school and studio in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which will open in March of 2023.