DESMOND LEWIS Representation
Memphis, TN | Sculpture, Mixed Media, Installation
Desmond Lewis is a sculptor who was born and raised in Nashville, TN. Lewis received his AA from Bard College at Simon's Rock in Great Barrington, MA in 2012, BS from Tennessee State University in Nashville, TN in 2014, and MFA from The University of Memphis in 2017. In 2017, he was named one of the 100 Interesting and Influential People of Memphis. His work can be found in public and private collections including Penland School of Crafts, Carolina Bronze Sculpture Park, City of Lenoir, NC, City of Hickory, NC, Vermont Carving and Sculpture Center, The University of Memphis, Soulsville USA, NexAir LLC, Skowhegan Parks and Recreation, and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. In 2018, Desmond was awarded a public commission by UrbanArt Commission to be permanently installed in the Orange Mound Community (in Memphis, TN) - completed in 2020. Past residencies include the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2018, Pittsburgh Glass Center in 2018, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in 2017, and the Vermont Carving and Sculpture Center in 2016. He maintains a full time studio practice in Memphis, Tennessee.
I am a sculptor that explores political, social, environmental, and economic issues regarding race and ethnicity in the United States. Through the creation of fabricated, carved, and forged sculptures, my work seeks to stimulate the conversation with regard to America and Europe's dark racial past, challenging present, and questionable future. I seek to develop sculptural forms that incorporate aspects of the past and present to further the notion that society has an affinity of perpetuating an explicit attachment to the “separate, but equal” past.
My work uses industrial materials to correlate the invisible appearance of structural materials in buildings with the concealed structural importance of African Americans in the United States. Steel provides a structure that can be beaten, heated, and manipulated, and yet it is still a strong material. African Americans have been beaten, burned, and exploited but we are still very strong people. The use of industrial materials requires a commitment from the mind, body, and soul to transform it from a raw state to a finished sculpture. This relationship with materials is echoed with my everyday commitment via mind, body, and soul to living in the United States as an African American male. Every day, I awaken to the reality that I have to remain conscious of my actions and my competition due to the reality of our society heavily scrutinizing me not only because of my technical abilities and intellectual knowledge but because of race and gender as well. Young African American males seemingly face an ever-growing mountain in society in order to be successful and sometimes it is truly frustrating and unnerving. It is through my impenetrable relationship with industrial materials that I am able to find solstice and comfort from this racist reality yielded by America in that I can forge, form, or fabricate a material into what I want it to be in the studio and feel safe from the ignorance of society. My labor is my refuge.