Lydia Smith is an American artist who grew up in Chicago. After graduating from Rice University in Houston with a degree in anthropology and art, she was awarded a fellowship from the Watson Foundation that supported her year-long travel outsideof the US to experience various cemeteries first-hand and record them in creative ways . She set out to visually explore how cemeteries reflect varying attitudes towards death in different countries while engaging with the communities that develop in these spaces.
In her own words,
“Cemeteries are rich with information about the culture, history, and politics of their surrounding environment. They are also a constructed landscape found all across the globe in cultures with varying religious beliefs and practices.”
Her journey around the world took her to Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, France, Egypt, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.
As part of the ARCHiNOS’ project in the cemetery, in January 2016 Lydia created in Cairo a huge mural painting in the square in front of the maq’ad of Sultan Qaitbey in Cairo. It depicts different products crafted by the local traditional artisans she met in the “City of the Dead”.
The artistic journey of Lydia Smith was financed by a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship.