Whether she’s building 11-foot-wide moth sculptures
or creating crafts out of bottle caps with children,
Michelle Stitzlein is attracted to bold, colorful
designs and strives to be resourceful in her work.
Stitzlein’s series of 14 moths combines her bold
sensibilities with a grounding in recycled goods. She
estimates that 85% of the materials in her moths —
ranging in size from 3 to 11 feet — are recycled.
The sculptor, 41, scavenges for materials
at yard sales, in her father-in-law’s barn, and at
a nearby, defunct dump. She also gets anonymous
back-door deposits by neighbors. “Friends and
family clean out their garage and basement and
think of me just as they are about to throw things
into the trash can,” Stitzlein proudly admits.
A graduate of the Columbus College of Art and
Design, Stitzlein lives with her artist-husband
Nathaniel in Baltimore, Ohio, in a 1952 two-story,
concrete block Grange building they’ve converted
into a combination house and shared studio space.
She’s traveled to developing countries like Guatemala, Mexico, South Africa, Peru, Colombia, and
Namibia, and enjoys seeking out and meeting local
folk artists. She’s inspired by artists like Helen Martins
of South Africa and Nek Chand of India, who've created entire sculptures out of recycled materials.
Not content to just make things, Stitzlein also tries
to promote creativity by leading lectures, classes,
and workshops. After an invitation from an elementary school to work on an Earth Day art project,
she expanded and developed her ideas for child-friendly garden installations and “cap-by-number”
murals. She wrote and self-published Bottlecap Little
Bottlecap, a book about recycled art projects for kids
utilizing colorful, easy-to-gather plastic bottle caps.
Stitzlein finds it exciting and challenging to
develop her craft in new directions. After completing her moth series, she’s forging ahead with a new
sculpture series that’s more abstract but still derived
from nature. “It is truly tough work! Mind, body, and
soul are tested and pushed to explore previously off-limits territories.” —Bruce Stewart
>> More Sculptures: artgrange.com/michellesculpture.html