Flying High was a site specific installation at Bartow-Pell Mansion during Armory Arts Week 2013 in partnership with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. It was constructed out of brown butcher paper which was hung between two trees. The paper was crunched, crumpled, rolled, twisted, interlocked, woven and manipulated. Its formations created contrasting patterns of light and dark shadows in the sunlight.
For Smith, butcher paper is a metaphor for the treatment of people in developing countries, particularly those of African descent, as well as consumption in the global market. People use butcher paper for many everyday activities and throw it away once they are done with it. Just some of its uses include wrapping meat, crafting, and packing items. When we pack things we often push these sheets down, bunching the paper to fill corners, trying to get everything tightly secured, and contained
Flying High was also meant to question our ancestral, historical, cultural and political past, as well as the possibilities for our future. Smith encouraged the viewer to look at the wrinkles in the paper, think about the wrinkles in the skin of the elders in your families: What stories do they tell? What memories do they hold? Look at the ways in which the paper intertwines: How are you connected to your ancestral legacy? Look at the shadows the paper casts: What are your hidden truths? What is the imprint of your personhood on humanity and the environment?
Left image depicts the garden area where Flying High will be installed. The adjacent images are examples of how butcher paper was used in a previous installation. The top right image is a detail; the bottom right is a full view of the installation.