Skip to main content

Corin Sworn

Working With Fire
2007

Not on view

Date
2007

Classification
Drawings

Medium
Graphite pencil on paper

Dimensions
Sheet: 23 1/8 × 30in. (58.7 × 76.2 cm)

Accession number
2008.245

Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Drawing Committee

Rights and reproductions
© John Walmsley

Working With Fire depicts young students at the Summerhill School in England, an alternative boarding school founded in 1921 on the premise of children’s individual freedom. The school has been controversial since its beginning, raising questions about whether a school without rules would foster a democratic utopia or unsupervised chaos. Sworn’s drawing is part of a pseudo-archive she created about the school based on real historical documentation. This drawing is a precise hand copy of a black-and-white photograph by the British photojournalist John Walmsley (b. 1947), who in 1968 published a book of photographs of the Summerhill School. The work’s title riffs on the expression "playing with fire," prompting viewers to question their own perspectives on the actions of the unattended children pictured in the image. By translating the mechanically reproduced photograph into a hand-drawn image, Sworn calls attention to the distance between the official record and personal memory.



Sunrise

Sunset

A 30-second online art project:
LaTurbo Avedon, Morning Mirror / Evening Mirror

Learn more

All visitors aged 12 and older must show proof they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine for admission to the Whitney, in accordance with NYC requirements. Visitors aged 18 and older will also be asked to show photo ID. Face coverings are required for all visitors. Learn more about the Whitney’s safety guidelines.