MYTCHELL/mead . contemporary fine art . STEEL/wood

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The work.

The image or effect on the steel is an intentional effort to draw out color and character hidden within. It is neither patina or etching, but coaxing. I use similar techniques and agents as those used to patina and etch, but with methods gathered from endless hours of experimentation. I like to believe that my process is more about finding the expression of nature within than imposing my will and ideas upon a piece.

I endeavor to freeze the process when the expression reaches a climax within the steel. At this point any remaining agents are removed and the plate is sealed and filed. I chose plates as inspirations dictates and further embellish. Such work can be to add a simple detail and framing, or it may entail elaborate scribing and heat gouging, the addition of pigments or sectioning. In every step, I remain guided by the dictates of the piece.

Needless to say every piece is completely original, never to be duplicated.

Every piece is sealed in two ways. The first is with a penetrating sealer that bonds the patina image to the steel. This allows me to further work the piece without damaging the image. After a piece is complete, I once again apply a penetrating sealer. This ensures that any place that has been heated or worked will not incur rust. I apply a coat of lacquer on all surfaces when the piece is complete, numbered and signed.

The extra care of sealing the pieces ensures their longevity and durability. It is safe to display my work in varied climates and exposures.

My work is in the created image, more like a painting than a sculpture and should be considered as such, therefore direct exposure to outside weather is discouraged.

Although my works are a frozen step in time, nothing is permanent and there may be a continual evolution in the image. It may march on through the centuries to achieve even more dramatic contrast.

A note about naming.

For me naming a piece is integral to the artwork. The name, however, is for me and the viewer is free to perceive whatever they like in the artwork.
A piece is generally named the day it is finished as I reflect on all that has gone on while working the piece. By doing so, I get to know what the piece is helping me to understand.
Take the “Angels of Forgetting” for example. While working on it, a friend gave me a book she had written about the things she experienced as a girl growing up in Poland during World War II. Oddly, her recollections were not centered on loss and tragedy. She remembered a large amount of freedom to play with friends because the adults seemed to mostly be distracted. When she immigrated to the US and became a psychiatrist, she felt the need to listen to those who had been to war and treated many Vietnam vets. Most of them only wanted to forget what they had witnessed and been part of.
While working on "Angels," I also listened to footage of Studs Terkel interviewing people twenty-five years after the great depression. Those who were children during the depression often recalled how everything turned into a game. In many cases they remembered it with fondness as they enjoyed families gathering in communal living situations. On the other hand, those who were adults at the time recalled hardship, stress and loss.

I finished the pieces on Memorial Day, so I considered this as a significant point in naming them. Throughout the process I had been thinking about how people deal with tragedy. As children, we have the innate ability to live in the midst of what the adults consider tragedy yet remain in bliss, while adults in the same situations suffer greatly. Culturally we memorialize our suffering with special days, museums and monuments.
At least this is how it all came to be in my mind while I was working on “Angels.”
So on Memorial Day while looking at the pieces I saw two doorways. First I saw a doorway on the lighter piece, one accessed consciously in the light of day. On the darker piece, the rectangle was horizontal. It seemed to be a doorway accessed by the subconscious, as when sleeping.

Being Memorial Day, I was suddenly curious as to why we like to memorialize tragedy. "Lest we forget,” is supposed to imply that we grow and learn from our mistakes, but perhaps it has the opposite effect. By memorializing our unsavory episodes then calling them bravery and chivalry, have we ensured their perpetuity?
Maybe we should try a new tactic. What if, instead of creating monuments to suffering, we create intentional doorways past tragic perspectives, past judgment to the joy of experience we knew as children. The doorways are the grace of the same Angels that helped us as children to live in the honesty of the moment, so we might learn to increase our bliss.
This, for me, is encapsulated within the Angels of Forgetting.