For some, fine arts and STEM fields exist in two separate worlds. Hard facts, numbers, and cold logic clash with the subjective and often passionate nature of the arts. However, this does not always have to be the case. Lewis Greenstein routinely pairs the two to create memorable medically accurate pieces.
In the past, Lewis has done some welding making stencils and screen printing to create vibrant anatomical prints as well as stickers, many of which are visibly plastered to the back of laptops across the grades. Recently though, he has been working in a more durable medium.
In the summer of 2015, Lewis was awarded an arts scholarship through the Anthony Quinn Foundation. Using this scholarship, he attended a bronze casting class. When asked why he chose this course, he responded, “I’ve always liked working with metal.” Lewis also mentioned that in addition to some practical considerations, he is fond of the fact that casting creates pieces “made up of a single molecular crystal structure” as opposed to something like welding where a piece is, by definition, made from several distinct parts.
Using what he learned in that class, Lewis created several bronze vertebrae and a slightly scaled up replica of human forearm bones. Each of these pieces required several hours with a sketchpad and anatomy textbooks while Lewis took notes on the proportions and the methods he would need to bring the bones out of the books and into the real world. From there, he used wire and clay to get the shape for the first mold of many.
As it turns out, casting is an involved process. Each piece has to have a mold made using a clay positive. Then that mold is used to cast wax, which is carved and smoothed into the final shape and linked together with special tubes made to allow the molten bronze to flow through the wax “tree.” The wax is then covered in ceramic and heated till it burns away leaving yet another mold that is filled with bronze. When the bronze cools, the ceramic is shattered off and the bronze piece is shaped and sanded into its final shape.
Lewis plans to continue his unique blend of art and science in college, but not in the way you might think. Instead of just making sculptures, he aims to become a reconstructive surgeon. “I think of surgery kind of like sculpture on people,” he said when asked about his interest in the field. For him, surgery is a perfect mix of hands-on work, creativity and helping people.
Lewis’s work reminds us that science and art are both lenses through which we can view ourselves and the world around us. Plus, this inspiring blend of disciplines is right at home here at Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences.