‘The Right to Swim’ re-imagines St. Pete’s Black history in vibrant gallery

‘The Right to Swim’ re-imagines St. Pete’s Black history in vibrant gallery

Two paintings by Vivia Barron
Images courtesy Vivia Barron

St. Pete artist Vivia Barron is bringing her vibrant, inspiring, and at times heartbreaking show to The Studio @ 620. “The Right to Swim” is a collection of paintings by Barron that reimagines vintage St. Pete postcards and photographs with the one thing they were missing – people of color.

The gallery is on display at The Studio @ 620 (620 1st Avenue South) from August 6-28, including this Saturday’s opening reception from 6-9 pm. The public can also view the gallery during the Second Saturday Art Walk on August 13 from 5-9 pm. Both viewings are free to attend, and additional gallery hours are available by appointment.

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Barron has become known as a collector of vintage St. Pete postcards and photographs, and she is loved for her portrayal of the Black experience through her bold and colorful acrylic paintings. The Right to Swim combines those passions, directly addressing the pains of the past caused by segregation and discrimination, while also offering hope for today’s brighter and more inclusive St. Pete.

Her work is meant to inspire all, to retell forgotten histories, and to give the Black and Brown people of St. Pete a sense of belonging in the city’s lore.

Vivia Barron taking a picture in front of her artwork
Photo courtesy Vivia Barron

“My work doesn’t just tell the story of St. Petersburg; it analyzes and tells the story of Black and Brown people who deserve to have their memories materialized in art forever,” Barron said. “I paint these people without faces, but you can see their emotion in the electric togetherness of the setting.”

The Right to Swim was most recently on display at the Carter G. Woodson African-American Museum. Learn more about the gallery, and Barron herself, at viviabarron.com.

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