Gerald Cyrus was born in 1957 in Los Angeles, CA and began photographing there in 1984. His initial subjects included jazz musicians and urban street scenes, and he exhibited at several L.A.-area galleries. In 1990 he moved to New York City to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of Visual Arts (SVA), which he obtained in 1992. While at SVA, Cyrus interned at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and began work on “Kinship,” a project focusing on African-American family life. In 1994, he started frequenting the nightclubs and lounges in Harlem and photographed the vibrant music scene in that historic neighborhood for over six years. The resulting body of work, entitled “Stormy Monday,” was published as a book in 2008. Throughout the 1990’s, Cyrus also worked on projects depicting New York’s street life and subways, and black communities around the U.S.
In 2000, Cyrus moved to Philadelphia, PA and began photographing in that city as well as the nearby city of Camden, NJ which is one of the poorest cities in the country. Cyrus has also photographed extensively in Bahia, Brazil where he was a fellow at the Sacatar Foundation and in New Orleans, LA (before and after Hurricane Katrina) where he has a family history.
Cyrus was an artist-in-residence at Light Work in Syracuse, NY in 1995, and in 1998 he was awarded an artist’s fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts. In 2002, he received a fellowship from the Sacatar Foundation to live and work in Bahia, Brazil for eight weeks, and in 2005, he was awarded a Pew Fellowship in the Arts.
Cyrus’ work has been exhibited in several museums including the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, the Bronx Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum, and the Worcester Art Museum. His photographs are in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Amistad Center at the Wadsworth Museum of Art, the Museum of the City of New York and the Readers’ Digest Corporation. He has also been featured in two anthologies of black photographers: Reflections in Black by Deborah Willis and Committed to the Image by Barbara Head Millstein. His book Stormy Monday: New York’s Uptown Jazz Scene was published in 2008.
Cyrus currently lives in Philadelphia, PA and is also a member of the Kamoinge photographers’ collective.