Michael Wittels
940 Tyler St #4
Benicia 94510

Statement for Napa Valley Show

My current work-in-progress is made almost entirely from discarded plastic. The manufacture of plastic in the US consumes a huge amount of petroleum, second only to that used as fuel. While there are some important uses of plastic, much of it is used frivolously, such as in the packaging of small disposable bottles of water, where the cost of the plastic in a case of 24 half-liter bottles is about 5000 percent of the cost of the water. Nevertheless, my work is not meant to be a political statement.

To make the pieces, I use a variable temperature industrial heat gun and other tools. Because heat-induced changes in the materials happen unpredictably, I have to concentrate completely, varying the distance, angle of attack and temperature of the heat gun. Each type of plastic behaves differently—dripping like melting wax, shrinking, bubbling, toasting or pooling, for example. After I am satisfied with what I am working on, I pin it to the studio wall or place on a shelf as a three-dimensional element. At some point I may combine any number of these pieces into an assemblage or fasten them to flat supports to make paintings. Right now many are arranged to some degree on the studio wall and I consider the whole wall a painting with changeable elements.

September , 2007

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