Recycled material used to create new art at Dayton Metro Library

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A tire, telephone, and iron are a few items that make up two of the Dayton Metro Library’s newest art installations at the Main Library. 

An Earth Day Reception celebrated Willis Bing Davis and Michelle Stitzlein creations using only used recycled material.

“I drive sometimes and just pick up things that other people throw away,” Davis said. 

An old blown out tire became the starting point for Davis. 

“Then I began to embellish it or accent it with industrial electronic surplus material that you can find in the back of computers and radios,” Davis said. 

He created an Urban Mask inspired by the Chimu Mummy Mask on permanent display from the Dayton Art Institute.

“They would use that as a springboard to create their own original work.” project manager for ReImaging Works from the Dayton Art Institute, Susan Anable said.  

Davis is a retired art educator inspired by looking at masks across the continent of Africa. Inspiring his series Urban Mask from a cultural warrior perspective. 

“I used my face as that warrior who is concerned about preserving the culture and preserving and recycling material,” Davis said

A cultural warrior is someone who protects and lifts up the culture. 

“To be able to recycle and to reuse something is adding to the salvation of the Earth,” Davis said, “because it’s one more thing you don’t have to put into the landfill.”

Stitzlein used more than 100 different objects in her piece.

“It becomes a scavenger hunt and sometimes a historical scavenger hunt because younger people or children don’t actually realize what some of these items are. There’s a phone handset in there and if they’re really young they don’t recognize it as a phone,” Stitzlein said. 

It’s called The Stream at Huffman Prarie inspired by the body of water.

“Which is a really beautiful location that the Wright Brothers would frequent for two things, to fly, but then also sketch,” Stitzlein said. 

 It was also modeled after Monet’s Water Lillies at the Dayton Art Institute. Her artwork focuses on working with recycled and found materials.  

“I think it’s great that we are celebrating both Earth Day and this piece on the same day. It’s appropriate because this is made with repurposed materials,” Stitzlein said. 

All of these materials are staying out of the stream by hanging on this wall. 

“It’s important to be thinking about the environment in general and how we use materials on an everyday basis,” Stitzlein said. “We can look at this piece and consider all the items that are in our lives and how we use them and how we can possibly reuse them is pretty important.” 

The many items above the fireplace in the Park Reading Room on the second floor were once used by Stitzlein, her family or her friends. 

“So I look at it maybe a little bit differently than the average person because there are pieces and parts, literally of my life in there,” Stitzlein said. “We also have items incorporated from the public. They donated items before I created the commission so it brings a little bit of Dayton in there as well.” 

The art was funded by an anonymous bequest to the Library. Anable said they teamed up with the Art Institute to create local art across all 17 branches. 

“Artist would be inspired by existing work in the museum from a collection,” Anable said. 

Each branch selected the art they wanted to feature as the inspiration.

“It’s really been a great process because the art is thought about from the very beginning,” Anable said. 

The Dayton Art Institute and the library collaborated with the Architects and designing the best space for art. The artist did not have to use recycled material. Stitzlein and Davis just happened to. 

“Which is really awesome that we can feature that here,” Anable said. “I think the importance is just to bring attention to people that all of that plastic and that beautiful work of art could be in a landfill or it could be in the oceans clogging things up.” 

“We’ve got one earth, one life, and one opportunity to try to make a difference,” Davis said. 

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