Biography
Curriculum Vitae ︎︎
Worksample ︎︎
Artist Statement ︎︎

Amber Hawk Swanson is a Providence-based artist by way of New York (2008-2019) and Chicago (2002-2008). She was born and raised in Eastern Iowa, where she lived half of each week in a predominantly blue collar community and the other in a predominantly white collar community near the Mississippi River. Her work explores care, animacy, and desire in the context of queerness and disability. Her complimentary scholarly interests are built upon investigations of enabling objects and actions; technologized and trans-speciated bodies and selves; animacy and animal intimacy; and the worldmaking involved in the online forums and livestream channels that have served as the primary platforms of her performance work. More recently, Hawk Swanson has turned her focus toward exploring sites of belonging and protection that simultaneously function as spaces of violent exclusion, and, along with her collaborator Davecat, to exploring the way sexual racism functions in the silicone doll world.

Hawk Swanson has participated in the New Museum Speculation Seminar (New York, NY); a Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) Workspace Residency (New York, NY); and an LMCC Process Space Residency (New York, NY). She has also completed residencies at Yaddo (Saratoga Springs, NY); MacDowell (Peterborough, NH); Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture (Skowhegan, ME); Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts (Omaha, NE); and the Sharpe-Walentas Space Program (Brooklyn, NY).

Scholarly writing on her work has been published in GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian & Gay Studies (2012, 2015), Theatre Drama Review (2012), and Art and Architecture in the Americas (2016). Hawk Swanson's work has also been featured in several recent books: Grace Banks’ Play with Me: Dolls, Women and Art (Laurence King Publishing, 2017) features her sculpture Amber Doll > Tilikum (2011); Cris Beam’s I Feel You: The Surprising Power of Extreme Empathy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018) includes a chapter on her performance Doll Closet (2014); Amber Jamilla Musser’s Sensual Excess: Queer Femininity and Brown Jouissance (New York University Press, 2018) includes a chapter about Hawk Swanson's 2013 collaboration with performance artist Xandra Ibarra (2013).

In addition to collaborating with Xandra Ibarra, Hawk Swanson has collaborated with artists Korakrit Arunanondchai (2012) and Jordan Lord (2015), filmmaker Renato Velarde (2011-2018), Synthetiks advocate Davecat (2007-present), and a community of mostly anonymous silicone doll owners known as doll husbands (2005-present).

Visiting artist lectures include Columbia University; New York University (NYU); Eugene Lang College, The New School; Hunter College; Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT); and The City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center (all New York, NY). She has additionally lectured at Yale University (New Haven, CT); McGill University (Montreal, Quebec, Canada); Maine College of Art (MECA, Portland, ME); Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, NY); East Carolina University (Greenville, NC); and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City, MO).

Her work is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago, IL).

Hawk Swanson holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Studio Arts, 2006) and is a recipient of a Rema Hort Mann Foundation Artist Community Engagement Grant and a Franklin Furnace Fund Grant. She has recently taught in the Sculpture Departments of Rhode Island School of Design (Providence, RI), Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA), Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore, MD), and Purchase College, SUNY (Purchase, NY). From 2007 to 2008 Hawk Swanson was live on air as an Assistant Host / Producer on Chicago Public Radio’s, Vocalo, and from 2014 to 2018 she was a registered carousel operator in the state of New York.


Amber Hawk Swanson is the Creative Director and one of three Co-Creators of The Harmony Show.

Portrait by Lisi Raskin (2021). Portraits by Christa Holka (2012-2018) here.