Anthony Smyrski

2012 Pew Fellow

1/11: Dan Murphy and Anthony Smyrski, a.k.a. Megawords, 2012 Pew Fellows. Photo by Colin Lenton.
2/11: Megawords magazine, issues 1–17, 2012. Various offset printing methods and paper. Photo courtesy of the artists.
3/11: Spread from Megawords magazine, issue 2, 2006. Photo courtesy of the artists.
4/11: Cover of Megawords magazine, issue 3, 2006. Photo courtesy of the artists.
5/11: Megawords honor boxes, 2009. Photo courtesy of the artists.
6/11: Megawords storefront, 2008. Photo courtesy of the artists.
7/11: Zine-making workshop at the Megawords storefront, 2008. Photo courtesy of the artists.
8/11: Megawords newsstand, 2010. Photo courtesy of the artists.
9/11: Megawords installation at Living As Form, Essex Street Market, New York City, 2011. Photo courtesy of the artists.
10/11: Megawords installation for Zoe Strauss: Ten Years at Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2012. Photo courtesy of the artists.
11/11: Megawords installation for Zoe Strauss: Ten Years at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2012. Photo courtesy of the artists.

“[Megawords’] practice springs from a place of permeable borders and boundaries, a place of possibility. We seek a new and inclusive way of experiencing culture and we ask the audience to be active participants instead of passive viewers.”

Anthony Smyrski (b. 1980) is one member of the artist duo Megawords, along with Dan Murphy.

Smyrski and Murphy are well known throughout Philadelphia for installations that are equal parts gathering space, artist studio, and storefront. In addition, they produce a self-published, biannual print magazine produced in the independent spirit of 1970s punk zine culture. While their practice has a global reach and they have collaborated with other artists internationally, it is deeply rooted in Philadelphia. As Megawords, Murphy and Smyrski have converted an abandoned newsstand in Northwest Philadelphia into an active kiosk, opened a pop-up exhibition and performance space in Chinatown, and organized free film screenings in abandoned lots, among other public projects. “We deplore culture where the audience is expected to sit back passively,” they write.

Murphy and Smyrski have expanded the context of their practice in recent years, working with established institutions such as Creative Time in New York City and the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania. In early 2012, they oversaw an interactive kiosk at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as part of the exhibition Zoe Strauss: Ten Years. The pair sees these new partnerships as logical steps in reaching a wider audience, and as an opportunity to challenge traditional notions of what can happen within a museum’s space.

References

Grants & Grantees

For decades this suburban university gallery has presented exhibitions of a quality and field-wide significance well beyond what one might expect, given its size and location.

Grants & Grantees

Al-Bustan’s concert series featured three virtuosic international guest artists making their Philadelphia debuts, each of whom performed with Al-Bustan’s resident takht ensemble.

Grants & Grantees

Louis Massiah is a filmmaker and a 1994 Pew Fellow.

Located in Independence National Historical Park, the Independence Visitor Center is the official visitor center of Philadelphia and the region and is the primary point of orientation for Independence National Historical Park, the City of Philadelphia, and the Southern New Jersey and Delaware River Waterfronts, as well as Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery Counties in Pennsylvania.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Since 1994, Hamza Walker has served as director of education/associate curator for the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, a non-collecting museum devoted to contemporary art.

Grants & Grantees

Richard Harrod is a visual artist and a 1997 Pew Fellow.

Grants & Grantees

Fleisher Art Memorial is a community arts organization dedicated to the ideal that people of all ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds have a right to experience art.

Over the past 25 years, Pew Fellows have been recognized with numerous prestigious grants and awards, and have had their work presented in 49 US states and more than 60 countries.

In this month’s Pew Fellows news highlights, theater artists Thaddeus Phillips and Pig Iron Theatre Company’s Dito Van Reigersberg, Dan Rothenberg, and Gabriel Quinn Bauriedel, as well as choreographer Kate Watson-Wallace, all have works on stage at FringeArts. Master embroiderer Vera Nakonechny talks to the National Endowment for the Arts about the history behind her work, and novelist Ken Kalfus’ new book is released.

Grants & Grantees

Zoe Strauss is a visual artist and a 2005 Pew Fellow.

Grants & Grantees

MacArthur Fellow and visual artist Ann Hamilton, whose installations incorporate textiles and fabric, will create a major off-site installation and organize a loan exhibition of historical and contemporary fabrics.

Ceramist and Pew Fellow Lauren Mabry on her creative development, embracing the unexpected, and more.