Sculptor Evan Lewis was in his studio last year when he got an
intriguing phone call: A scout who finds artwork for movies was in
search of some kinetic wind sculpture.
The film, the movie rep explained, would be about scientists who
So, the Chicago artist thought, "Why not?"
He corresponded with Warner Bros. executives, sending them
photos and videos of his large, wind-powered sculptures that move
and sometimes tingle with the wind. Before long, he found himself
working furiously to meet a deadline for works the designers wanted.
One year later, Lewis is getting recognition in a way he could
have never predicted. It is perhaps best described in the words of
a man who identified Lewis's work at a recent art show in
Chattanooga, Tenn.: "Hey, you're the 'Twister' guy!"
" 'Twister' guy" may not exactly be the title Lewis hoped for
after more than 10 years as a kinetic sculptor, but for now, the
recognition is a welcome windfall.
Lewis's sculptures are featured prominently in the blockbuster
movie starring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton as Jo and Bill Harding.
When we meet Jo's Aunt Meg we learn that not only does she make
great steak and eggs, but she also creates curious kinetic
Lewis says he's pleased when people identify his work by
"Twister." "It's very flattering to me. It means I have a style
that's recognizable," he said in a phone interview.
To be sure, Lewis is not the first or the only artist to have
artworks featured prominently in a motion picture. Painter Paul
Deo, for one, is known for having works in "Malcolm X" and "Waiting
But what makes Lewis's situation somewhat unusual is that the
designers needed a body of work, not just one or two pieces.
As the artist tells the story, his sculptures were just "under
consideration" when director Jan de Bont just happened to be
strolling by a viewing room where one of Lewis's videos was
playing. "That clinched it," Lewis was told. De Bont chose him,
despite hearsay that Steven Spielberg reportedly had someone else
The next task was deciding what to feature in the movie. The
designers asked Lewis for some 20 works, ranging from large-scale
sculptures to interior pieces, such as lamps and a mirror.
A few sculptures they asked for were older works that Lewis had
either sold or had already scrapped, so he had to start again.
"Basically they wanted me to rebuild what no longer existed," Lewis
says. One was "V Floater," a large piece measuring eight feet high
and 25 feet long made from steel and corrugated, galvanized sheet
metal. As rumor has it, that went home with Jan de Bont.
One finished piece had to be rented from the owner in Buffalo,