South Bend Museum of Art Education Blog

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Meet Mitzi Sabato

Mitzi Sabato with the rain barrel she created for this year's auction.

“I like using the recognizable object as a vehicle to start a dialogue between the audience and myself,” says sculptor Mitzi Sabato, and in the case of her rain barrel for this year’s auction, the dialogue is sure to be spectacular and surprising.

Entitled “Winter Walk/Wall,” Mitzi’s piece invites audiences along on a journey through nature during late winter, whereupon they find the intriguing collection that Mother Nature often curates during her coldest months.   Inspired by the ways in which both flora and fauna are transformed and preserved by winter weather and lost or forgotten tidbits of humanity are frozen or “caught” in the ice and snow, Mitzi set out to create a rain barrel that truly blends in with a garden.  As you explore “Winter Wall/Walk” you’ll notice things like pieces of deer skull, the broken wing of a bird, and a small shrew-like rodent — all of which she found on the grounds at her farm — along with pages from Treasure Island and a button from a Canadian military jacket.  Other details include constructed rocks that Mitzi created to look glazed with ice and water and moss meant to look like the same moss that grows on her property.  “It’s a more serious piece,” Mitzi admits. “It’s not meant to be a decorative painting.”  At the same time, she realizes that the experience her rain barrel offers the viewer will take on a life of its own.  “It’s fine with me whatever direction that (Winter Walk) takes them on.”

In talking with Mitzi about her creative process, it is evident that as an artist, she is very much the personification of her “Winter Walk,” bringing a tremendous breadth of unique experiences to her artwork today. She acknowledges her family background and her involvement in other organizations in South Bend as some of the many fragments of inspiration that have embellished her journey through life and through art.   More importantly, she sees all of her experiences as reasons to give back to the art community in South Bend, and SBMA has been fortunate to count her among our close friends.  SBMA holds some of Mitzi Sabato’s earlier artwork in our permanent collection, and we benefit from her guidance and expertise as a member of our Board.  Having studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and worked at the Museum of Contemporary Art there, she feels she is able to serve SBMA through a variety of perspectives.

In her words, “I can see things as an artist, a staff member, and a board member.  I think I can make valuable contributions.”  We agree wholeheartedly.  Thanks, Mitzi, for such inspired and inspiring work.

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