I considered Eugene Swain an icon. He was soft spoken, dedicated to his art and his family and excited about his craft.
During my five-year tenure as Director of the Morgan County African American Museum, Eugene donated detailed artifacts that he created from his life experiences. There is a replica of a slave ship, detailing the cruelty and savageness of that era. There were replicas of homes, barns and breathtaking outdoor scenes of a building that he turned to art when he saw them in his mind’s eye.
A favorite piece of mine was an oil painting of a beloved deacon from his church, reverently awaiting the end of prayer before entering the church. There were pictures of buildings and folks long gone who were memorialized as they went along their everyday life. Another favorite is a picture of dogs looking out of a screened door waiting for the rain to end. I could feel the freshness of the air after the rain when I looked at that picture. My memories are too many to recall.
Eugene had a natural raw talent that we see only a few times in a lifetime. He was from the Plainview area of Morgan County; the same area that the Andrews family was from. There seems to be magic that flows from that area of our county.
What will Eugene Swain’s legacy be? We owe his art a permanent place of honor here in his beloved Morgan County. A place where we can continue to love, appreciate, honor and protect this legacy.
His love and devotion for his beloved Glenda and his family was apparent. We continue to pray for Glenda’s recovery, and for his family and a legacy that we must support as a community. He was a role model to all of us; but especially to little boys and girls of color who need to follow their dreams.
Thank you God for giving us Eugene Swain for 61 years. He used the talent You gave him to create a legacy that will never be forgotten.
Past Director, MCAAM