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Desmond Lewis, A Sculptor Turned Pyro

By: Jay Yi

Imagine you are in a small town, not big enough to have an official fireworks show, even for the Fourth of July. You think that this year is no exception, but it is. You hear that a black sculptor is coming to provide a show for your town.

Small towns like the one your imaginary self was living in are getting a fireworks display. Desmond Lewis, a sculptor, is running firework shows to try to make art using fireworks.

According to the New York Times, “While conducting visual research to investigate the ways a very warranted explosion could be rendered sculpturally, Lewis realized that there was little visual difference between the flames that emanate from a firework and those from a burning car.”

From there onward, Lewis tried to express his feelings about police brutality and other issues using firework displays. To see if it was possible, he needed research, so he went to Skowhegan, Maine.

After he finished researching, he joined a big pyrotechnic company to get his license. Though this license was on the way to becoming a professional, he still had a few more steps to go. On the way to getting his license, he was sent out to small towns where he was a lone black man. According to Desmond, “I have two options. I can either be six feet underground or in a six-foot cell.”

While traveling to the states to get his last license, he went to enough to get his final license needed. With that last step completed, he was on his way to achieving his goal. After paying for his travel costs and the fireworks’, he was on his way to Greenwood, his first show.

After almost being late, he arrived just in time. The show was organized by three friends who had grown up in Greenwood, and the fireworks were the last part. During the performance, disaster struck, and a man entered his safety radius. Lewis blocked the man until the show was over, and then the man just left.

Even though this was his only show this year, Lewis plans on doing more for the future years to come.

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