Darl Thomas, who received his BFA at the U of U and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, says he learned to weld and drill and tap holes and the value of machine tools at the U, “and that has been the method of producing my work.” After Cranbrook, he looked for jobs in machine shops so he could use the lathes, milling machines and welders to produce his own things after work and on weekends. “I also got to see and make a lot of pretty cool stuff, some of which influenced my direction and my work,” the artist recalls. After getting his master’s, Thomas focused on public-art projects, and entering into as many shows as he could. “I have projects from Box Elder County — ATK Space Systems — to Sandy, and have completed 14 major public and private commissions.”Recently, he has been working on a series of pieces that are “pretty loosely based on influences from architecture. There are lots of geometric shapes like rectangles and cubes. I have been trying to distill these down to very minimal elements and the relationship of one shape to another, including working with the space between the elements. A lot of my newer work is extremely minimal and may only have two or three elements,” he explains. Some of this work can be seen at A Gallery.
He says he is also planning a few pieces in 2018, some indoor, some outdoor, that are “basically line drawings in metal that define shapes by outlining them as open frame and creating a hollow form. You can see through them. As always, one idea or sculpture leads to another and another,” says Thomas.
“Since I am no longer an artist with a day job, I have a lot more freedom and time to be in my studio exploring any direction I want to go,” he remarks. A couple of years ago, when he knew he didn’t need the day job any longer, he tells us he bought a more sophisticated welder and needed an electrical upgrade to manage it. “When the electricians came into my studio and saw my lathe and milling machine, plus everything else, one guy asks, ‘Are you married?’ and when I told him I had been for 40 plus years, he said, ‘How does your wife let you get away with all of this?’” Thomas said that he had met Ivana at Cranbrook Academy and that she was a printmaker — an artist — too. “So she gets it,” he explained to the electrician, “but this guy didn’t know how to absorb it at all.” And Thomas knows 15 Bytes readers will find that as funny as he did.
See more of the artist’s work at www.darlthomas.com.
Every January we check in with Utah artists to see what the new year holds in store for them.
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