PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- The Clay Art Center interviewed its resident artist Matt Smith, who has been using city streets as an inspirational resource.
The Port Chester center's Adam Chau uncovers the method and the mission behind Smith’s "pushcart art-for-volunteerism project" around Westchester streets. His project is part of a larger “portrait of Port Chester,” which culminates in Smith's solo exhibition "My Name is Nobody" from July 11-28 with an opening reception from 6-8 p.m. July 11 at the Clay Art Center, 40 Beech Street.
We’ve seen you with a push-cart titled “Artist at Work” around town. Can you tell us about what you’ve been doing beyond Clay Art Center’s facility on Beech Street?
"When I moved here a year ago, I really wanted to get to know the community and environment of Port Chester, and I thought that I could do this as an art project. I’ve been going around Port Chester (starting at CAC) and slowly picking up trash on every street that I go through."
What are you doing with this trash?
"I collect and sort the trash into three categories: Useable for art, not useable, and recyclable. The useable objects I find, like bottle caps and plastics, are composed into a long strip and coated with plaster. I’m creating a visual road map of Port Chester using these discarded things."
What has been the oddest piece of trash you’ve found in Port Chester?
"I just found these colorful Legos that brought me back to my younger days of playing. There was also this nametag from Party City that said 'Jessica' on it. I’ve put it on Instagram with hashtags in the farfetched hopes that someone will claim it."
So what is the end result of this project?
"My show will have a large wall of these plaster pieces that I’ve constructed into a map of Port Chester. I think of this installation as a self-portrait of Port Chester. These modular pieces won’t be for sale - I'm looking to trade them for a volunteer effort. In exchange for an artwork, I’ll be asking the individual to clean their own street and archive a trash object on the Instagram account."