In my training as a metal sculptor by my father, the master sculptor Clark B. Fitz-Gerald (1917-2004), a great emphasis was placed on conservation of materials. The material I’m referring to, metal, is expensive and seems to cost more as time goes on. As such, scrap yards and recycled metal products are a ready source for the raw materials for my art. I have developed many contacts and sources over the past 30 years for industrial scrap. Each time I make an art piece from recycled metal, I document the work in photographs and give one to whomever was the source of the material. This is more often than not an industrial facility, and even though we may be working with the very same material, we use it in entirely different ways. Indeed, to the industrial mind, it is often considered quite bizarre that anyone would purchase an object that has no practical function for great sums of money. I overcome skepticism by revealing through the work an elevated understanding and profound knowledge of the material and what it can do. Craftsmanship they understand. It is tangible and expressed in one’s ability to shape and mold this rather tenacious, cold and static medium and quite literally bend it to your will. And thus my industrial connections take the photographic print I give them of the work I’ve produced using their material, and in this subtle way they feel as if they’ve taken part in the creative process. It immediately goes up on the wall. In this simple but respective way I ingratiate myself to them and develop a rapport, which bears fruit when on their own initiative they call me when some special shape or form is generated as scrap that they know I’ll be interested in. Northern California metal sculptor Stephen Fitz-Gerald considers himself to be an “expressing machine.” A Renaissance man in the classic sense, he produces works in diverse mediums: from life-size figurative sculptures in steel and stainless steel to fine art nude photography, as well as design and fabrication of a full range of functional decorative arts — from furniture and jewelry to large-scale site-specific outdoor structures, including fountains, gates, gazebos, trellises and winery doors. His comprehensive knowledge of historical styles and artifacts allows him to design and build pieces that match esthetically any period from Neolithic Bronze Age to Industrial Modern. This versatility, combined with his prodigious output, has allowed him to live his dream and survive 100% on commissioned work. Fitz-Gerald is patronized by local architects in the greater Bay Area because of his design skills, rapid production time and quality craftsmanship. As a result, he enjoys many repeat clients and is consistently in demand.
Sculptor Stephen Fitz-Gerald on Working with Recycled Metal
The Northern California artist dishes on working with an ever-changing, ever-recyclable material.