In much of his work, Stoetzel photographs or sculpts natural elements to reveal hidden landscapes and monumental worlds within tiny, overlooked spaces. Each piece emphasizes the power of natural form and the temporary predicament of the man-made. In his new series, Stoetzel reinforces this theme by using natural elements as building materials for man-made forms.
Stoetzel grew up in Florida where aged cypress is used as paneling in seafood restaurants and motel lobbies to give an “authentic” Floridian appeal. Pecky Cypress is, in fact, fungus-eaten cypress wood with hollow spaces that appear to be carved marks. The wood’s texture mimics camouflage, a Richter-like abstract painting, a woodblock print or pyrography. Stoetzel finds this natural design to be fascinating and, for this show, carves Pecky Cypress into both a VW Bus and a replica “Captain America” Harley Davidson Chopper motorcycle from the movie Easy Rider . Both are 1:1 decoys of the real vehicles. They inspire dialogue related to the landscape, a longing for the open road and nostalgia.
In a similar vein, Stoetzel covers an existing Suzuki motorcycle with assorted seashells. The shells are a break from the Pecky wood, yet they demonstrate the same reliance on gradual and measured ecological formation. Again, a lust for the open road dominates. The viewer is invited to imagine riding these vehicles into the landscape, where lines are blurred between what is natural and what is manufactured. As the viewer investigates the craftsmanship of each piece, a once-familiar object is transformed and rediscovered.
Finally, Stoetzel will show large mirrors, meticulously sculpted in shells and sand. Each replicates the bird’s eye view (from Google maps) of a famous garden. Again, the tension between the natural and the man-made is palpable.