In the Absence of Color

May 17 – July 13th, 2019

Jeremy Thomas is in our current show In the Absence of Color.

Admirers of Jeremy Thomas’ sculpture should be grateful to a thief. Thomas came to the College of Santa Fe to study Studio Arts as a painter and printmaker, both of which he had been doing since high school, even apprenticing with a master printmaker in his native Oklahoma. However, one semester while moving out of his dormitory, with boxes and bags piled around, the wooden box which held all of his brushes and painting supplies went missing. One moment it was on the curb, the next it was gone. Thus ended Thomas’ career as a painter. The next semester he took a sculpting class and never turned back.

While Thomas is happy to converse about theory and concept, he is most content thinking of himself as a maker of objects rather than an “artist”. To him, the label of “artist” is a mantle placed onto a person by society, which in the current day has as much to do with trends as it does with the production of great work. He is insistent that making objects is a natural impulse for all humans. Some people make pies or spread-sheets, some make books or sculptures.

It is the pragmatic that draws Thomas. Asked about his influences he asserts that his primary influences do not come from the realm of art but rather from everyday living. “I don’t eat, sleep, and breathe art,” he comments. His discovery of metal-working arose in a similar, practical way. Thomas had been sculpting with stone and asked someone to show him how to forge his own chisel. This was the start of his exploration of forging techniques and after a time he gave up working with stone to work with metal. One of the key aspects of blacksmithing that intrigued Thomas was fact that it isn’t instantly gratifying, and it poses questions that aren’t easily solved. He interned with Tom Joyce (recipient of a MacArthur genius grant) and later worked in Santa Fe as a blacksmith creating items as diverse as fireplace screens and light fixtures, but always continuing to make the objects of “art”.

His current inflatable steel sculpting technique is something he stumbled upon during a demo for one of his sculpture classes. Steel, Thomas says, has a clay-like malleability at high temperatures. He welds forms together which can be heated and injected with pressurized air, causing them to inflate and “grow” into their final shape. The final pieces contain paradoxes: metal molded by air, sensual forms in forceful fetish-finish primary colors gleaned from tractor manufacturers. These sculptures are changeable (as one continuously finds new approaches in their creases, angles, and wrinkles); they allow a dialogue between viewer and work. Thomas says he engages in an ongoing dialogue, a give and take, with his materials. He says, “Art is the science of play”, a creed that Thomas takes to heart, both in his work and in his life.

Jeremy Thomas
Crown Blender White, 2017
cold rolled steel, powder coat, and urethane
49 x 72 x 56″

Click button below to view Bentley Gallery’s portfolio of works by Jeremy Thomas

Jeremy Thomas Portfolio

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b. 1973, Oklahoma

Admirers of Jeremy Thomas’ sculpture should be grateful to a thief. Thomas came to the College of Santa Fe to study Studio Arts as a painter and printmaker, both of which he had been doing since high school, even apprenticing with a master printmaker in his native Oklahoma. However, one semester while moving out of his dormitory, with boxes and bags piled around, the wooden box which held all of his brushes and painting supplies went missing. One moment it was on the curb, the next it was gone. Thus ended Thomas’ career as a painter. The next semester he took a sculpting class and never turned back.

While Thomas is happy to converse about theory and concept, he is most content thinking of himself as a maker of objects rather than an “artist”. To him, the label of “artist” is a mantle placed onto a person by society, which in the current day has as much to do with trends as it does with the production of great work. He is insistent that making objects is a natural impulse for all humans. Some people make pies or spread-sheets, some make books or sculptures.

It is the pragmatic that draws Thomas. Asked about his influences he asserts that his primary influences do not come from the realm of art but rather from everyday living. “I don’t eat, sleep, and breathe art,” he comments. His discovery of metal-working arose in a similar, practical way. Thomas had been sculpting with stone and asked someone to show him how to forge his own chisel. This was the start of his exploration of forging techniques and after a time he gave up working with stone to work with metal. One of the key aspects of blacksmithing that intrigued Thomas was fact that it isn’t instantly gratifying, and it poses questions that aren’t easily solved. He interned with Tom Joyce (recipient of a MacArthur genius grant) and later worked in Santa Fe as a blacksmith creating items as diverse as fireplace screens and light fixtures, but always continuing to make the objects of “art”.

His current inflatable steel sculpting technique is something he stumbled upon during a demo for one of his sculpture classes. Steel, Thomas says, has a clay-like malleability at high temperatures. He welds forms together which can be heated and injected with pressurized air, causing them to inflate and “grow” into their final shape. The final pieces contain paradoxes: metal molded by air, sensual forms in forceful fetish-finish primary colors gleaned from tractor manufacturers. These sculptures are changeable (as one continuously finds new approaches in their creases, angles, and wrinkles); they allow a dialogue between viewer and work. Thomas says he engages in an ongoing dialogue, a give and take, with his materials. He says, “Art is the science of play”, a creed that Thomas takes to heart, both in his work and in his life.

EDUCATION

BFA, The College of Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM
Iron Pour, Mesalands Community College, Tucumcari, NM
Internship, artist blacksmith Tom Joyce, Santa Fe, NM
Internship intaglio printmaking, painter/printmaker Jean Richardson, Oklahoma City, OK
Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute, with artist Deloss McGraw
Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute, with artist Robert Z. Rahway

AWARDS

1995 Visual Arts Advisory Council Outstanding Junior Award
1995 The College of Santa Fe Outstanding Junior Award Academic Year
1994 The College of Santa Fe Outstanding Sophomore Award

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2015 Bursting at the Seams, Bentley Gallery, Phoenix, AZ
2013 New Works, Bentley Gallery, Phoenix, AZ
2012 Dialogue in Steel, Collaborative exhibition with Elliot Norquist, Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM
2009 Boll, Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM
2008 Implement, Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM
2006 Inflatables, Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2012 Pink, Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM
2011 Mostly Monochrome, Jackson Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM
2011 Black, White, and Red, Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM
2009 Small Works, Bentley Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ
2009 Thirty Years of Collecting: Recent Gift to the Museum, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale, AZ
2007 Purple Rain, Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM
2007 Off The Wall, Charlotte Jackson Project Space, Santa Fe, NM
2006  That’s Hot, Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM
2006 Site Unseen 4, Site Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM
2006 Clockwork Orange, Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM
2006 Collect 8, Center for Contemporary Art, Santa Fe, NM
2005 Yellow Show, Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM
2005 Group Show, Rocket Gallery, London, UK
2005 Objects of Desire, Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM
2005 Collect New Mexico, the Museum Of Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM
2004 By Invitation, Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM
2004 The Grass is Greener, Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM
2004 Rocket Gallery, London, UK
2004 Selections, Santa Fe Art Institute, Santa Fe, NM
2004 Monothon 18, College of Santa Fe, Tishman Hall, Santa Fe, NM
2004 Site Unseen, James Kelly Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM
2003 Santa Fe Emerging Artist Expo, Santa Fe, NM
2002 Monothon 16, Site Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM
2001 Monothon 15, College of Santa Fe, Tishman Hall
2001 Pojoaque Art Tour Group Exhibition
2001 Sanchez Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
2001 Jett Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
2000 Monothon 14, Site Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM
1999 Monothon 13, Site Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM
1996 Element and Image: Two Thesis Exhibitions, College of Santa Fe, Fine Arts Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
1996 Composite: 12th Annual Student Art Exhibition, College of Santa Fe, Fine Arts Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
1996 Bricktown Gallery, Oklahoma City, OK
1995 11th Annual Student Art Exhibition, College of Santa Fe, Fine Arts Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
1995 The College of Santa Fe Faculty and Student Art Show, Fuller Lodge Art Center, Los Alamos, NM
1995 The Short and Tall of it All, La Baguette French Bistro, Oklahoma City, OK
1995 Inn of the Anasazi, Santa Fe, NM
1994 Artists In the Rough: 10th Anniversary Student Art Exhibition, College of Santa Fe, Fine Arts Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
1993 CSF Student Art Exhibition, College of Santa Fe, Fine Arts Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
1993 Quartz Mountain Collection ‘92, Goodard Art Center, Ardmore, OK
1993 Philbrook Arts Center, Tulsa, OK
1993 City Arts Center, Oklahoma City, OK
1993 Quartz Mountain Arts and Conference Center, Lone Wolf, OK
1992 Young Talent in Oklahoma, City Arts Center, Oklahoma City, OK
1992 Quartz Mountain Collection ‘91, Philbrook Arts Center, Tulsa, OK
1992 Oklahoma City Arts Museum, Oklahoma City, OK
1991 Young Talent in Oklahoma, City Arts Center, Oklahoma City, OK

PUBLICATIONS

2014 Jeremy Thomas Breathes Life (and Air) into Steel, Artsy Editorial, May 2, 2014
2012 Exhibitionism, Pasatiempo, April 27-May3, 2012, pg.78
2012 Bentley Gallery-Palm Springs Fine Art Fair-2012, Aopublic.com, February 2012
2011 Art Basel Miami Beach: Tenth Year, Neimanmarcus.com, December 2011
2011 Jeremy Thomas Molds Steel Like Clay, By Heating It Up To 2000°F, Fastcodesign.com, May 24, 2011
2011 Sheets to burn, fire to sculpt, Lanciatrendvisions.com, May 2011
2009 Jeremy Thomas: Boll, THE magazine, October 2009, pg 42
2007 Frame of Mind, Santa Fean, October/Nov2007, pg 43
2006 Collins, Tom. Not For The Faint Of Heart, Albuquerque Journal North, May 26, 2006, pg.S8
2006 Ficher, Zane. Here and There, Santa Fe Reporter, May 10-16, 2006, pg.34
2006 Santa Fe Gallery Openings, Albuquerque Journal North, Jan. 13th 2006, S5
2006 Ongoing at the galleries, Pasatiempo, Jan 20-26, 2006, pg. 67
2005 Edgy to established, Santa Fe New Mexican, May 29, 2005, pg. D-1
2005 An International Incident, Santa Fe New Mexican, July 26, 2005, pg. D-1
2004 Santa Fe galleries A guide for the rest of us, Pasatiempo, Dec 24-30, 2004, Pgs.28, 29, 31,37,39,46,48,49,55
2004 Pasatiempo, Feb. 6, 2004, pg. 80
2004 THE Magazine, Dec/Jan 2003-04, pg. 46
1996 Offsite in View and Two Theses, Santa Fe Reporter, May 8-14, 1996, pg. 31
1995 11th Annual Student Art Exhibition, THE Magazine, pg 61
1994 Pasatiempo, May 6, 1994
1994 Albuquerque Journal North, May 5, 1994
1993 College Art Students Vie For Prizes, Recognition at Show, Pasatiempo, April 2, 1993

PUBLIC COLLECTIONS

Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, New York
New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, NM
Quartz Mountain Arts and Conference Center Lone Wolf, OK (destroyed by fire)
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art Scottsdale, AZ
Wiesman Foundation, Los Angeles, CA

Artsy Editorial: Jeremy Thomas Breathes Life (and Air) Into Steel
Jeremy Thomas describes his sculptural practice as an ongoing relationship between material, form, and the intense physical act of manipulation. Though his work is popular among collectors, his process is better known to blacksmiths than anyone in the fine art community. Thomas’s graceful fusion of blue-collar work ethic and sculptural practice creates works just as impactful in the outdoors as they are in gallery settings.

When Jeremy Thomas creates his steel sculpture, it’s a back and forth process between the artist and the material. By injecting air into malleable steel that’s heated to about 2000 degrees, he develops spontaneous, organic, and sensual contemporary sculptures that playfully mix in other three-dimensional

abstract languages.

Jeremy Thomas’ discovery of metalworking arose from experimenting with the possibilities of the material, rather than from a pure conceptual way. Jeremy explains that steel is quite malleable and is actually quite a lot like working with clay. After welding forms together and then heating them, he injects them with air — inflating or “growing” them into a form. He then paints them with automobile paint, or with the smaller pieces, nail lacquer. Jeremy Thomas is a skilled colorist. Every color is meticulously selected to combine with each unique form. The largest sculptures are inflated without the heating process, by adding air pressure into cold forms. He also reverses the process and deflates his sculptures using a proprietary technique. Sometimes, his sculptures explode during the process. Jeremy is a risk taker, who plays with the limits of the materials and his own sense of adventure.

In his work, Jeremy Thomas unifies dualities, paradoxes and oxymoron — visually, technically, and conceptually. Beginning with steel carefully molded by air and working through the process with general expectations of the overall forms, he allows the unpredictability of results to take over and inform the sculptures. The three-dimensional shapes originate from geometrical assembled flat panels, a play between natural, rusted surfaces and glossy, painted sections. Ultimately, feminine and masculine symbolism coincide within the same sculpture.

Jeremy’s sculptures are very different from every angle, so that viewing them is a continuous discovery process best appreciated by moving entirely around them. 

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