Jeremy Iris-Williams is an artist. He is constantly noticing the colors of things, their form, their shapes, and their composition. He draws, he paints, and he recently has become interested in sculpture.
One of his paintings (“Jumping Beatles”) was included in an earlier issue of NU.
During this past summer, Jeremy worked for the Garden State Discovery Museum in Cherry Hill on the construction of their new exhibit hall, the “Dinosaurium.” The museum is a hands-on experience for children from 1 to 10 years of age and their families and caregivers. So this new dinosaur-focused exhibit included a pit for excavating dinosaur bones, activities under a paleontologist’s tent, a full-scale Pteradon suspended from the ceiling, and the head of a Triceratops that roars.
Much of Jeremy’s work included helping cut out, paint, and assemble the 15’ tall Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton built as part of a climbing structure for this new exhibit.
Periodically, the exhibit staff cleaned up the exhibit hall to make room for a new structure, to reduce the dust, and to make it easier to work in the space. Sawdust, scraps of wood, and other materials left over from fabricating the structures, the activity areas, and the dinosaur skeletons were piled into boxes and thrown away.
Many of these remnants had odd shapes and often had holes shaped like a bone, a clump of grass, or a tree limb. These irregularly shaped pieces were intriguing to the artist in Jeremy. So one night instead of putting the boxes into the dumpster, Jeremy put them into the car and took them home.
Over the next several months, Jeremy assembled and reassembled them into a number of different configurations on his garage floor. In celebration of his grandmother’s birthday, Jeremy chose his favorite “dinosaur remnants” to create a wall sculpture (“80”).
Painted in vibrant colors, “80” is dynamic with a great deal of energy and movement. The piece is big (7’4” wide by 9’2” high) and it is fragile since it is assembled from so many different pieces. Serendipitously, the sculpture comes apart in three sections, so it could get out of the garage and be easily moved in a truck.
“80” was first installed in the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) lobby for the center’s “Party with a Purpose,” an event to celebrate Milly Iris (Jeremy’s grandmother) and to raise funds to support the center.
The sculpture hung at SOPAC for six weeks, from the beginning of December to the middle of January. After that, the sculpture was disassembled, transported in the family’s truck, and reinstalled at the Garden State Discovery Museum.
“80” now greets museum visitors and demonstrates how the remnants of one activity can become the inspiration of a whole new idea.
Jeremy still has two more boxes of scraps in his garage…and will get to them eventually.
Jeremy Iris-Williams, 17, attends the Lewis School in Princeton.