The connection between a three-wheeled bike, a shopping cart, and some paintings of old vans might not jump out to most people right away, but for Kevin Cyr the connection is obvious.
Cyr grew up in a Maine mill town whose economy is in decline. His vehicular art series, including the Camper Kart, Camper Bike, and paintings of vans, reflects his interest in the industrial working class.
Formerly a bike messenger in Boston, Cyr conceived of the Camper Bike while working in Beijing. In the Chinese capital, a large percentage of the populace use bicycles as a principal method of transportation and hauling, and only in recent years have people come to relate to cycling as a recreational activity.
“I was especially interested in three-wheeled bikes and how workers hauled gigantic loads on the bike’s flatbed,” Cyr explains. “I saw people carrying loads of building materials, large pieces of furniture, huge bags of styrofoam, really huge items that people in the West would use pickup trucks for.”
The Camper Bike is an amalgamation of something quintessentially Chinese (bike transportation) and something classically American (camping).
Inspired by Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road, Cyr began sketching plans for the Camper Kart, essentially a pop-up camper affixed to a shopping cart. “I thought it was really interesting how McCarthy imagined the shopping cart as the most practical object in a post-apocalyptic time,” he says.
These “functional sculptures” exemplify Cyr’s nostalgic impulses. Cyr grew up with a 1977 Apache pop-up camper, and tried to limit the items he used to that period. After appropriating an abandoned shopping cart from Queens, he added canvas, vinyl, mesh, and accessories such as snaps, bungee cords, zippers, and velcro.
Cyr hopes the Kart will stimulate conversation about self-reliance, mobility, and shelter. He envisions it as a functioning sculpture emblematic of human perseverance.
More Work by Cyr: kevincyr.net