Michelle Stitzlein creates large scale sculpture from recycled materials. She works in a large studio converted from a former grange hall in Baltimore, Ohio. Her work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions in galleries and museums nationwide, including the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center, Auburn, NY; Appleton Museum of Art, Ocala, FL; Cedarhurst Center for the Arts, Mt. Vernon, IL; Mulvane Art Museum, Topeka, KS; Warm Springs Gallery, Charlottesville, VA; Carnegie Mellon University / Miller Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA; COSI, Columbus, OH; and the Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus, OH. During her travels she has met artists in countries such as South Africa, Namibia, Guatemala, Mexico, Bolivia, Colombia and India, and has been inspired by their resourcefulness & ingenuity with found materials. A graduate of the Columbus College of Art & Design, Stitzlein has also taught workshops, as an artist-in-residence, at elementary schools, art camps, and arts festivals. Using the humble plastic bottle cap as her medium, she encourages recycling through the means of art making. She has assisted children all over the US to make colorful murals, and whimsical outdoor sculptures utilizing thousands of bottle caps that would otherwise end up in a landfill. She published the how-to books “Bottlecap Little Bottlecap” and “Cool Caps!”, as resources for parents and teachers. Projects from both books have been represented in Ranger Rick magazine as well as on HGTV.

• PDF of Michelle’s exhibitions & resume

Artist Statement
My work is created with recycled and found materials. Items such as old garden hose, electrical wire, computer cables, piano keys, mini blinds, china shards, license plates, and bottle caps are utilized to create imagery and abstractions born in my imagination. However, only purposeful study will reveal the individual identities of the hundreds of objects within each of my pieces. These objects, once assigned and confined to a certain function or task, find a new decorative incarnation within my work as color, texture and/or pattern. Through the process of cutting, dismantling and placement, I coax the multiple, disparate objects into unusual relationships and odd bedfellows to unite as a bold, visual whole.

My work is influenced by motifs found in nature, though it does not necessarily resemble any one species of plant, animal or insect. The Fynbos Series, is titled after the shrubland zone of the Western Cape region of South Africa and the exotic, spiky flower heads of the protea, a flowering bush found in that area. But then, the series is also inspired by common house plants and succulents sold in almost every local nursery near my Ohio studio. Each piece in the Moth series combines patterns and borrows attributes from many butterflies and beetles, but it is also a study in the symmetrical being a bit asymmetrical. No two wings are identical. I’ve admired the beautiful imperfections found in nature’s details and, in turn, exposed those “flaws” by enlarging everything by hundreds of times its original size.

The contradiction of ideas surrounding artwork inspired by nature, but created entirely with discarded materials left over from mass consumerism and industrial production, is intriguing to me. It’s something of a full circle story. Raw resources are extracted and harvested from the earth to manufacture solid goods and household wares and then those same items are disposed of by the community and scavenged by myself to create a vague essence of nature. I find the concept simultaneously disturbing and comforting. At once, an insult and a tribute to Mother Nature.