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Artist Desmond Lewis Takes His Sculptures into the Sky

By: Jessie Sha

Artist Desmond Lewis is a 28-year-old man who is a lanky and bespectacled sculptor. As a sculptor, he creates pieces that are forged, carved, manufactured, and made from industrial materials. His sculptures could be anything from concrete to steel, or wood and rebar.

His pieces also recognize an analog. To him, the smooth surfaces are memories of African American history which are covered up or whitewashed. A lot of constructions feature skilled concrete which he says, “Massaged to look pristine.” This is his impulse he rails against. His sculptures tend to look like they will fall apart or are close to being destroyed. This exposes how Lewis understands white supremacy and the harsh realities of black life, but instead of being grim, his sculptures are marked with a little bit of whimsy like, a pop of color, a jaunty placement, or a handprint. His sculptures show a coeval relationship between tenderness and violence.

He started his pyrotechnic experiments in 2018 when he went to Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (a highly selective school for rising artists). While he was conducting his research, he found out that explosions could be rendered sculpturally. He noticed that there was little difference between a flame from a firework and a burning car. After he lit his first firework, he got a job at a large pyrotechnic company. He claimed that it was uncomfortable because he was one of the few black workers. Later, he used fireworks to celebrate Juneteenth, and everyone enjoyed it. Now he is in Greenwood, and he is still impressing people around him.

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