College for Creative Studies: Art Practice (Fine Arts)
As an artist, Todd Mitchell visually portrays the intricate connection of human interaction through drawings and sculptures. His career as the chair of the fine arts program at Macomb Community College provides much inspiration.
“My work is constantly changing,” said Mitchell. “When I started out, I created art about how an individual tries to navigate through life. Now my focus tends to be more about how people have an effect on each other—some for good, others for worse. Like a pebble dropped in water, our ripples will impact each other for the rest of our lives.
“Throughout my education, all of my instructors touched my life, particularly Todd Erickson, Matt Holland, Jay Holland, Gilda Snowden and Russell Keeter. They went beyond teaching basic skills and taught me what it was like to be an artist. Being assigned a studio and working on art everyday, then having to show that work in critique and in galleries really prepared me for what artists encounter. Today I find myself teaching these same lessons. As an instructor I hope to affect my students for the better, so my drawings and sculptures reflect that.”
Although demand has caused him to do more drawings lately, Mitchell considers himself a sculptor at heart. He combines materials, such as aluminum and limestone, with unique relics and artifacts to create constructions accentuating the way the old and the new play off each other. While he echoes the theme of influence and interaction in his drawings, critics have described his illustrations as studies on value and illusion.
“Some respond to the simple visual quality of my work, while others prefer the form and layering of ideas that seem to accompany each one of my works,” said Mitchell. “I think most great sculptors can draw well—after all sculpture exists in three dimensions and drawing is recreating the three-dimensional world.”
Mitchell has participated in gallery showings and exhibits throughout the United States, but his greatest sculpture is on display in the Ironbridge Open Air Museum of Steel Sculpture in Telford, England.
The influence of mentors combined with experience as a gallery artist sparked Mitchell’s decision to begin teaching drawing, sculpture, jewelry and art history courses at Macomb Community College (MCC). Since joining the faculty in 1999, he has advanced to the position of chair of the fine arts department.
“I find it very rewarding to help someone establish their art skills, to watch them grow and reflect on the possibility of pursuing a career in art,” Mitchell explained. “One of my long term goals is to make MCC a great two-year art program and maintain a good working relationship with CCS. There are a lot of students who do not know what to do with their lives. Impacting their foundation as they develop into great artists is an awesome responsibility.”
Mitchell is currently working on a sculpture book called "Sculpture, Beyond the Process" scheduled to be published this fall. In his spare time, he enjoys marathon running.