The sculptures of Betsy Lewis ’12 trace intimate, yet stunning, shapes
Betsy Lewis’ metal work suggests the organic: a four-chambered heart, a slim length of spine, a silver wishbone wrapped in a silver strand. The pieces are arresting because they seem familiar, but differ enough from their muses to offer a brief surprise and an invitation to look closer. Ditto for her series of invented surgical implements.
Her first solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Metal Works was in the planning stages when the pandemic struck this spring. While she transitioned to an online showing, she acknowledges feeling the loss of her first solo opening. However, there’s reason to be optimistic. Lewis just moved into a new studio that overlooks the Manhattan skyline in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Inside, there’s a jeweler’s bench, soldering system, tree stumps for hammering, long white tables to display finished works, an array of tools— and more room. She’s working with metal on a larger scale, fabricating hollow sculptures that resemble rope, inspired by a trip to the studio of the late muralist Al Held. “During my visit,” she said, “I noticed among his massive paintings was a tangled rope in the corner, representing life and workmanship.”
Lewis remembers being an “angsty kid” at Williston. She said she’s grateful for the independence she cultivated here and the friendships she still has today. “Being a Willistonian has impacted how I’ve moved forward with my life and career,” she said. Lewis has visited Williston art classes to talk to students about her process. She also teaches metalsmithing at the Rhode Island School of Design, SUNY New Paltz, and Brooklyn Metal Works.