The Works of H.O. Swain
The photography of Henry Oscar Swain entered my life during my family’s relocation from Phoenix to Tucson, Arizona. Coming across a case of color slides, I remember asking Where did these come from? That simple inquiry began my exploration into the photographic works of H.O. Swain.
Through conversations with my father, I began to weave together the backstory of H.O. Swain. A box of cameras and multiple containers of color slides were left to my father by his grandmother, Florence, upon her passing. These relics belonged to her second husband, Henry Oscar. H.O. Swain, an engineer of design for General Electric, was an enthusiastic photographer. His birth in the 1890’s coincided with the invention of photography and he grew alongside the medium. His enthusiasm for photography led him to document his and Florence’s trips around the world during the 1960’s. He left behind hundreds of Kodachrome Transparency color slides documenting their travels and a small portion of which are exhibited through me.
I say that H.O. Swain’s images entered my life and are exhibited through me because it explains my belief that I am a medium for his work. I feel connected to an individual whom I never met. I felt a strong urge to exhume and exhibit the talent of H.O. Swain, long after his death and for an entirely different audience. His images depict his view of the world in the 60’s and were shown to friends and family. To have Swain’s images transcend living room slide shows and exhibited as fine art was an act I felt Swain deserved. For recording his point of view, quietly and humbly, I felt he deserved a showing of his own. The works of Swain has led me to question my motivation for creating art. Through him, I witnessed that to create art, free from monetary gain or public acclaim, for oneself is an act that is uncontaminated.. To record images that will be packed away, with the probability of never again seeing the light of day, tells me that Swain photographed in a manner that is pure. For this modest act, I wanted to offer a fellow comrade of photography an exhibition of his own.
Please take freedom in viewing the works of H.O. Swain. When you use the light box to view his slides, you also view H.O. Swain.