Hello! My name is Annie Cyrus. I’m a queer, Asian American artist from Northeastern Ohio and am currently attending Kent State University for a BFA in Jewelry, Metals, and Enameling. I love taking care of my cats and plants and enjoy watching them grow!
Tell us about your work:
I love to create whimsical and visually fun pieces. Art doesn’t always have to look serious and profound for it to have a deeper meaning. I’ve found that many people, like myself, find comfort in objects and imagery that remind them of childhood. Utilizing these ideas, I have been creating more and more fun art; a belt buckle of a shrimp in a cowboy hat or my cat in a rocket ship! Cutesy artwork has become an icebreaker of some sorts to break through to my ideas, mindset, and even trauma.
How did you start your metalsmithing/materialsmithing/adornment journey?
I started out in college! I was actually in the ASL and English Interpreting program at Kent State University for a year and a half but ultimately decided that I wasn’t quite suited for that career path. Unfortunately, i felt really stuck and miserable where I was and I started doing really poorly in classes and was put on academic probation which motivated me to switch majors. Because of that, my last ditch effort to switch to Fashion Design was thwarted as I didn’t have the gpa required for that particular program and was sent to the School of Art to try and boost my grades and morale. It was suggested I take the intro course for jewelry, metals, and enameling, and it was so chaotic as it was spring of 2020 and the pandemic shut down everything in March. I didn’t even get the chance to learn how to solder! So I took it again in the fall semester and fell in love, I had always been good at making art, yet no medium really resonated with me. It was like looking at a buffet of food I didn’t like until I saw the cornbread, and I LOVE CORNBREAD (in this analogy metal smithing is cornbread <3). I finally felt like I could create anything I could ever imagine, and I’m happy to say that I am! Jewelry, metals, and especially enameling, have opened the door to so many more possibilities and mediums even outside of body ornamentation for me as an artist.
How does your identity relate to your work? If at all?
I’m sure there are ways that my art and identity interact and are linked. But as my art currently stands, I mostly just create what I want at the time. Currently, I’m working on a piece that I didn’t intend to reflect what I wish my body looked like yet somehow resonates with who I am as a non-binary Asian American. Then again, next week, I could be creating a piece centered around personified seedpods!
What are the main concepts in your work?
I would say whimsical elements are the most prominent in my work. I always let my intrusive thoughts win when I’m creating. If I imagine something slightly absurd, I ask myself, “Well, why not try it anyways?”
Can you share a bit about your conceptual development?
I’m a huge fan of making art simply just to make it. I often receive a prompt or an intrusive thought and then act on it. The first few things that come to mind turn into a sketch without much hesitation, and then from there forward, I just see where the process will take me. Details like texture and color are some of the first attributes I consider, but more often than not, they aren’t concrete and change the closer I am to finishing the piece. The whole process is extremely impulsive, and I really enjoy the mistakes or happy accidents that come with that.
How do you take a break and reset?
I don’t… Just kidding! In addition to being a full-time student, I also work at my school’s gallery, so it can be hard to take the time to slow down and care for myself. For starters, every Tuesday I go to the rec center with some friends and swim for a couple of hours after classes and it’s a time a really cherish. I try to stay home on the weekends, spending time with my cats, catching up with my mom, and doing my nails is huge. I often express myself through my nails, and I like to grow them out. (a challenge as a metalsmith for sure!) I try to get super creative with them via color, texture, and even adding charms and accessories. It’s my favorite way to ensure I’m giving myself more care, attention, and some more love at the end of the week.
What is your favorite tool, material, or process?
Recently, I’ve been obsessed with powder coating! I’ve been experimenting with different colors and intentional cross contamination on a singular piece.
What is something no one has ever asked you that you would like to answer?
What is one project you would complete right now if provided with all necessary materials and full creative liberty? I’ve had this dream of creating an installation of a see-through pool with a platform that people can walk onto. It would have tons of small casted or handforged trinkets and jewelry settled in the bottom of the water. I’d love for it to be interactive and for visitors to take a trinket by reaching down in and grabbing it!
What do you want to see in the field in order for it be more supportive?
I’d love to see more Southeast Asian and LGBTQIA+ Southeast Asian metalsmiths and JME artists.
*** All interviews have been edited for clarity and brevity