Benjamin Joseph Swatez was born on June 26, 1981, in Humboldt County, California to Jennifer and Mitchell Swatez. Two of his earliest photos of childhood are of him covered in paint and kicking a soccer ball; little did he know then that these two themes would forever sculpt his life, living an athletic life spreading this joy of painting around the world to this day. His loving footprint is in the Amazon Jungle with the Shipibo tribe, on a boat down the Volga River of Russia, in the caves with Romani people, on the streets of Sarajevo, in the Democratic Republic of Congo painting with children of war, in India with former debt-bonded slaves, in the Colombian red-zone, in refugee camps … he treasures every experience, transforming obstacles into opportunities to learn, grow and share voices of freedom. Everyone has a story of trials and tribulations; the question is: “What are we going to do about it?”
Benjamin Swatez was a Rotary Exchange Student his junior year of high school and played soccer in Sweden for a D-1 farm team, Brommapojkarna. After this he returned to Ashland High School in Oregon where he graduated in 1999 while earning All-Southern Oregon honors as a senior, leading the league in scoring. Benjamin played his first two years of University for UC Davis before journeying abroad again to attend college and play professional soccer.
After years of hard work I was blessed to fulfill my childhood dream of playing professional soccer in Scandinavia and now I feel the calling around the world to share the colors of love. In many ways soccer and art were my saving grace.
He graduated from the University of California, Davis, with a degree in Fine Arts. He ventured through the Americas, North to South, for three years living with people on the street, orphans, impoverished villages, tribes in the jungle and so forth. He lived beside people of all walks of life and was moved by the common thread of creativity; a safe container for a positive outlet of expression and both community and self-empowerment. Since then he has traveled the world, embodying his friendly style of humanity in over 60 countries, has painted with thousands of youth facing adversity, and has shown personal work in 58 international art exhibitions on four continents.
Home is wherever Benjamin is. In the Skagit Valley of Washington State in the Pacific Northwest, Benjamin built a little slice of home when he converted a shipping container to his studio. His “Magical Mango” VW bus has been his home for his stateside explorations. You never know where he will show up next as his life is a collogue of experiences that share happiness.