Fritz Dietel is a sculptor based in Philadelphia, whose wood and paper sculptures focus on organic structural forms. His work appears at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Johnson & Johnson Corporate Headquarters, The Vanguard Group, Milton Hershey School and the Perelman Medical Center for Advanced Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Dietel’s sculptures have been featured in shows at the Delaware Art Museum, Portland Museum of Art and Grounds for Sculpture. He is a past recipient of a Pew Fellowship in the Arts and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship in Visual Arts. He received his BFA from the University of the Arts.
My work is an evolving exploration of vessels, linear elements and organic forms. Most of my pieces are inspired from observation of botanic and aquatic life — egg casings, shells, seedpods, and hives. I work mainly in wood and handmade paper. Much of my work in wood is fabricated from strips and shards of wood and pigmented epoxy.
In constructing sculptures, I borrow many techniques from wooden boat building, including cold bending, steam bending, and epoxy laminations. Handmade abaca paper has become an integral element in my recent works. I begin by building superstructures from wood or foam. This framework becomes the backbone of the sculpture. I sheathe the forms with wet sheets of abaca paper or sprayed pulp, allowing the drying process to become part of the aesthetic. I intentionally have no desire to interfere with the inherent properties of the material, allowing it show off its natural strength and translucency.
“In constructing sculptures, I borrow many techniques from wooden boat building, including cold bending, steam bending, and epoxy laminations.”