Michael Swaine is an inventor and designer working in many media. He has collaborated with artist collective Futurefarmers since 1997, where he is considered the analog anchor of the studio. The organization’s interdisciplinary projects range from fingerprint video games to bingo to an outdoor mapping workshop in Toronto. Michael is dedicated to working in the community; his “Reap What You Sew” Generosity Project involved him pushing an old fashioned ice cream style cart on wheels with a treadle-operated sewing machine on it through the streets of San Francisco. Currently, Michael is teaching at California College of the Arts.
Michael is currently building the Free Mending Library in the Tenderloin area of San Francisco. It is located at 509 Ellis, a location recently rededicated as the Tenderloin National Forest by the Luggage Store gallery. It is a library for fixing the holes in our lives – a place to borrow thread and sewing machines and talk about life.
Michael’s work is always collaborative in nature. It has been included in exhibitions at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Folk Art; and the Exploratorium, San Francisco.
During his NEA-sponsored artist residency in the Learning Studio, Michael worked side-by-side with Stijn Schiffeleers, allowing for unavoidable collisions. Michael outfitted his mobile sewing-machine cart with a mechanical music-making device that will allow his “customers” to punch their own sheet music while they wait for their clothes to be mended.