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Half Dollar Chair in Welded Half-dollars and Stainless Steel, 2013, number 36 from an edition of 50, 46" x 32" x 32.25," courtesy Joe Kramm/R&Company

by Elayne Clift

Johnny Swing was fortunate enough to have a mother who was an artist. She inspired and encouraged his interest in welding which led to him sculpting metal into functional art, something he said he knew he wanted to do from the age of three. By the time he was 13, he was comfortable with his medium both as a welder and a budding architectural artist. His first gallery show took place just after he graduated from Skidmore College, after which he studied at the prestigious Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Today his work is shown and owned internationally.

Swing is best known for his coin furniture. One of his earliest chairs was made from individually welded steel dock washers he found in a dumpster. In the mid-1990s, his source material became coins, starting with his “Penny Chair,” which required thousands of pennies to be individually welded together. From there he went on to nickels, starting with a “Nickel Couch,” and now much of his iconic work, like his noted “Quarter Lounge,” includes quarters. Each piece is individually crafted and takes months to produce. It’s not unusual for the name Warhol to pop up when aficionados discuss his work.

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