Focus on Cyrus Smith


For the last year, Cyrus has been traveling around America in a Volkwagen Vanagon, seeking friends, family, small towns, and artist residencies.  So far he has interviewed a beekeeper in Chicago, been bird-watching in rural Connecticut, learned how to make chicken wings in Washington DC, and worked for a hat-maker outside of Charlotte.  In addition he has completed two artist residencies.  The first was at Elsewhere Artist Collaborative, a living museum housed in a former thrift store.  The second was at Beton Salon, in Paris, France, where he joined the rest of the Social Practice program for a project called Parties Prenantes: Info Point.

Following are descriptions of projects completed at these residencies.

don’t tread on me

gadsden small 12

handmade flags for coe’s grocery, elsewhere collaborative, 2009

During a residency at Elsewhere Collaborative in Greensboro, North Carolina, I worked primarily with the Gadsden Flag, also known as the “don’t tread on me” flag. This banner originated in the Carolinas during the American Revolution, and has gained some attention lately as the flag of the “tea-party.” I found the flag for sale across the street at a military surplus and general store called “Coe’s.”

I was talking with the shop owner Bill about the flags who stated, “only problem is they’re made in China!”

So, I offered to make some in America if he would sell them in his shop… to which he replied, “hell yeah.”

The flags are screen-printed in three layers, and hand sewn with a design copied exactly from the Chinese version.  Once completed, Bill put the flag on display alongside the Chinese one, so that shoppers could take their pick, $6 for the Chinese made, or $20 for the American made.  This made for quite an intimidating display out front…

Don’t tread on this store!
a very brief history of greensboro, north carolina

history of greensboro 2

a photo essay for the “dead writer’s convention,” elsewhere collaborative, 2009

This zine distills the history of Greensboro, North Carolina into just a few pages of image and text, based on the historical landmarks in the downtown area. The publication was produced for the “Dead Writer’s Convention” at Elsewhere collaborative, in October of 2009.
parties prenantes: info point

mafia zeutrei em zed

a neighborhood presentation series for BetonSalon, Paris, France, 2009

As part of a residency at BetonSalon in Paris, I worked with the PSU Art and Social Practice Program students and faculty to create an exhibition similar to a science fair, with each display instead focusing on an individual or group from the neighborhood. For my contribution to the project, I ended up working with a hip-hop group from the neighborhood named Mafia Zeutrei. The group is a collective of musicians who grew up in the neighborhood, who are all 18 or younger. The group’s display featured photos by their photographer, Melody Odeimi, as well as a slide show of their fans who had posted images on facebook. For the opening of the exhibition, we invited the group to hold a sneak preview of a brand new video, followed by a brief live performance, which gathered a large group of neighborhood kids.  The group was incredibly professional, and brought a great deal of energy and excitement to the exhibition.

(project in collaboration with artist Sarah Roach)