Ever the pragmatist, Jeremy Thomas learned metal forging because wanted to make his own chisel to use in carving stone sculptures. Little did he imagine that we would soon abandon stone to work exclusively with metal. After a period working as a metalsmith, Thomas stumbled upon his now-signature technique of heating steel upwards of 2800 degrees Fahrenheit, rendering it malleable as clay, then injecting it with pressurized air to create voluminous forms. The process involves cutting steel plates into circular shapes, folding them into a pattern, and welding them into place to form sensual, “inflated” sculptures characterized by creases, folds, wrinkles, and curved lines. He coats parts of these erotic and biomorphic forms with the slick colors characteristic to industrial farming, while leaving other parts in a raw state of oxidization. As Thomas describes, this juxtaposition is meant to heighten “the sense of contrast between the synthetic and the organic.”
The polychromed structures of Thomas’ work suggest mutable origin and material, the metal seemingly crushed or formed from other recognisable objects at various viewpoints — the uncoated and corroding steel bursting from its gleaming, chrome body. Inspired by the form of the cotton boll, a seed pod from which the fibre is harvested, Thomas slowly opens a bridge between agriculture, vegetable, and industrial mechanism — exploring the dark history and mechanical strain of the plant (notoriously one of the most resource-dependent crops, a problem classically solved by throwing slavery at the equation) versus its beauty and versatility.