A spectacular evening of Bahamian indulgence filled with tropical drinks, delicacies and dancing is coming to Beach Drive this month. In celebration of the debut museum exhibition Gio Swaby: Fresh Up at the Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg, the Fresh Up Dance Party is on Friday, July 29, from 7-10 pm, bringing a summertime party of Black joy and excellence to the MFA.
Named for Gio Swaby’s incredible exhibition currently on display, the title Fresh Up references, in Swaby’s words, “a Bahamian way to describe someone who is particularly stylish—also used to give props to the wearer. I love the uplifting nature of this phrase.”
The MFA and Gio Swaby describe it as a tropical-themed party featuring a DJ, dancing, and Bahamian-influenced cuisine and drinks. Guests are encouraged to don their best “Going Out Clothes” as you and your friends will be mixing and mingling with Gio Swaby and the rest of the St. Pete community at this fashionable and fun event.
Meet Gio Swaby on the dance floor
In a unique opportunity for such a stunning and inspiring showcase, guests will not only have the chance to experience the exhibition that everyone is talking about, Gio Swaby: Fresh Up, but will also be able to meet the artist Gio Swaby herself, and let loose on the dance floor in the process.
This event is open to the public, and tickets for MFA members are $20, or $30 for non-members (though you can apply the cost of your ticket to a new membership and keep the fun going all year long.) Looking for inspiration on what to wear? Bright colors, floral prints, enamel jewelry, and straw bags are some of the signature pieces you’ll want to look for as you as you dress in your best “Going Out Clothers.”
“Going Out Clothes encompasses that joy and self-fulfillment through a presentation that is regular but regal.” – Gio Swaby
This stunning exhibition, on display through October, features works from the artist spanning 2017-2021. Growing up surrounded by the threads and fabrics of her mother, a seamstress, Swaby chooses to work in mediums traditionally associated with domesticity as a means to imbue her works with familiarity, labor, and care.
Swaby’s work will change the way you consider the sewing medium with her life-size series Pretty Pretty. The subjects are meticulously rendered in freehand lines of thread, and shown on the reverse side of the canvas so that the stitching process—its knots and loose threads, so often hidden—is visible. With sheer vulnerability, Swaby embraces and elevates the imperfections of the art form.
Swaby’s art is centered upon the personal connections forged between subject and artist, and conversation is key to achieving these portraits of beauty and power that she deems love letters to Black women. The portraits begin with a photo shoot wherein the subjects are captured in a moment of empowerment and self-awareness. Swaby foregrounds their personal style —seen in the detailed renderings of jewelry, hair, and clothing—creating space for self-definition and unapologetic self-expression.
Learn more about Gio Swaby, the MFA, and ticket availability here.