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Gabrielle Vitollo

Member Highlight of June

Tell us about yourself

"I make paintings and sculptures that explore the impact of industrialization on the environment. My intention is to create objects that help reshape society’s visual information systems for a more sustainable future. I received my BFA in Painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art (2012) and my MFA in Studio Art from New York University Steinhardt (2017) where I studied multi-disciplinary techniques that hybridized traditional and digital media. In 2018, I relocated to Berlin, Germany on a Fulbright Research Grant for Painting & Printmaking to study decorative armor and Albrecht Dürer’s dynamic printmaking compositions for my paintings. During 2020-21, I investigated Berlin’s geological glacial history through a DAAD Fellowship. In 2022, I relocated my studio from Berlin back to Brooklyn, NY to teach in higher education and to exhibit my art commercially. I am presently an adjunct painting and drawing faculty member at Montclair State University and Pratt Institute. Since I began metalworking at MakerSpace NYC in 2023, I exhibited two sculptures at Fredericks & Freiser Gallery and my first public sculpture at Walt M. Shammel Community Garden in Brooklyn, NY through NYC Parks.

My sculptural process involves bending, cutting, and welding recycled steel at MakerSpace NYC. After water jet cutting the shapes, I clamp the sheet metal to a table or place it in a manual brake and bend it with all of my body’s physical strength. Next, I weld the pieces together. Manipulating the metal takes a substantial effort that transforms and strengthens my body in the process. Finally, I adhere archival glicée prints of warped, abstract landscape paintings of geological flow data and satellite images onto the sculptural forms. Examples of these metalworks are currently on view in MakerSpace NYC’s front window display in my exhibition, Waveform Macchina."


"My background is in painting and printmaking, but sculpture found me. A gallery approached me after I posted 8-inch-tall flashing aluminum sculptures that I was playing around with in the studio. During a studio visit they asked if I could make a 4-foot-tall version. After two weeks of intense research on metalworking and successfully applying for microgrant funding from YoungArts, I was able to realize my first metal sculpture at MakerSpace NYC."


"I spend a lot of time researching and drawing decorative armor in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Arms & Armor Wing. I am curious about these antiquated armor etching techniques as well as the bending processes that strengthen the forms. I am frequently rummaging through the art historical past to make sense of the Zeitgeist. As a painter, I am also interested in how the metal’s contour and intricately etched depictions of battle scenes, flora, and fauna can create various eye movements. In addition to the ornate Italian and German armor, some of my favorite examples are the Hungarian-style shields and the painted German tournament shield with an owl from circa 1500. The owl is surrounded by the German motto, "Although I am the hated bird, I rather enjoy that," and I think this reflects the anti-establishment attitude evidenced in my bold sculptures that challenge the status quo of the flat rectangle.

Playing with high key colors cues from my interest in the hard-edged and stripped down qualities of post-punk music combined with a more intuitive lyrical sense of line. The prints’ patterns suggest soundwaves or waveforms of light, but they also reflect my investigations of geological flow data. As a professor who teaches realism and a fabricator who painted for Jeff Koons, I am interested in this play between figuration and abstraction; the pictorial space of the artifice and the objective materiality of the real."

Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

"Currently, I am using Intaglio processes to etch satellite image landscapes onto the metal surfaces. I am also developing techniques for priming and painting on the surfaces with automotive paint for outdoor works and oil paint for indoor works, similar to the oil paintings with copper as a substrate from the 1500s and 1600s. I also currently have an outdoor sculpture installed in West Chester, Pennsylvania and I am looking for more public sculpture opportunities for the future."


"I learned about MakerSpace through word of mouth. An acquaintance who works with sculpture suggested that I go to MakerSpace to realize my first metal sculpture."

Anything else you would like to include?

"Metal sculpture was a breakthrough in my artistic practice and I am still going strong with painting."

What is your favorite tool at Makerspace?

"The brake! The equipment’s mechanics are fairly simple, but you can do a lot with it. It’s amazing what one can achieve with a simple lever. Operating the metal shop brake is like going to the studio and the gym at the same time."

WHERE TO FIND Gabrielle:


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