Y-Bridge Twilight, 2019
Lock 2 Portal: The Ship's Carpenter, 2022
Michael Loderstedt describes himself as "visual artist ... urban farmer, sailor, birder, activist, citizen, husband & father, decent cook..."and has used his artistic expertise to create sculpture, artist books, installations, and performance pieces, as well as prints and photographs in various forms. This openness to multiple directions has led him to collaborate with artists throughout Northeast Ohio and throughout the U.S and abroad, including during residencies in Belgium and Dresden (Germany). He is a familiar and valued participant in the Cleveland art scene, lending his imagination, creativity, and energy to a wide range of activist and artist-generated events such as the “Under One Roof” (2010) performance piece to call attention to the need for a new art building on the Kent State University campus (the effort paid off with the dedication of the remodeled Center for the Visual Arts in 2016). He has been awarded artist residencies and has exhibited widely in Northeast Ohio, around the United States, and in Europe, creating work and friendships all along the way. He has been an important contributor to the Print Club of Cleveland, the Print Center in Cleveland, and from 2018 to 2022 ran the only Cleveland gallery dedicated to photographic work, Photo-Centric on Waterloo Road in Collinwood (Cleveland). He is also author of published essays and poetry.
Loderstedt grew up in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and earned the B.F.A. degree from East Carolina University and the M.F.A. from Kent State. He taught printmaking and photography at Kent State for many years, leading students regularly on travel-study trips to New York and then, on multiple occasions, to study-abroad experiences in Europe, particularly at the Frans Masereel Centrum in Kasterlee, Belgium. His years of dedication to his students and service to Kent State were recognized by the Distinguished Scholar Award (2012) and with the dedication of a studio on the print floor of the Center for the Visual Arts in his honor (2016).
Where you can see more of this artist’s work:
Loderstedt’s work can be found in the permanent collections of the Cleveland Clinic, Progressive Insurance, the Akron Art Museum, and the Cleveland Museum of Art, as well as in numerous other public and private collections in Ohio and beyond. You can enjoy an overview of recent and older works online or follow him on Instagram at m_loderstedt. He early recognized the value of self-publishing books of his photographs and prints in widely available formats, so that you can find his work in artist books that track many of his interests and projects. Recent works have included Apollo (ascendant), for the 100th anniversary of the Cleveland Print Club, and Bridges that Unite Us, a commission for the Jewish Family Services organization of Cleveland. Loderstedt lives in the north Collinwood neighborhood with his wife, artist Lori Kella, and their son Ethan. He talks about his work and life in a 2011 interview.
historic reference photo
Lock 2 Portal: the Ship's Carpenter, 2022
Materials: digitally transposed historical photograph woven on jacquard loom, 4 panels, each 60"x 60"
Location at Summa: Juve Family Behavioral Health Pavilion, second floor lobby. This work was commissioned specifically for this location in the Juve Family Behavioral Health Pavilion at Summa Health Systems.
About the art and the artist-
Michael Loderstedt has deep interest in and respect for the past, both personal and collective. For this commission by Summa Health, he identified an archival photograph of an Ohio Canal depot in downtown Akron (the site today is marked by a skeletal reminiscence of a historic canal boat). The shot appears to have been taken from the east embankment of the canal that runs along Water Street (which you can see in this 1892 plat map), while the area of the ship's carpenter yard in front of what Loderstedt identifies as MacClelland's Sawmill and a row of houses (addresses 300-308) is today the site of Children's Hospital. To the right of the crane and on one of the canal boats stands a resolute figure, dark against light. Loderstedt speculates that this is probably the ship's carpenter and that the photograph, still relatively uncommon and thus expensive, served as advertisement for his trade, making repairs to the boats that he pulls from the water with that crane. "This discovery has personal resonance for me as well, having worked as a small boat builder, I can identify with this figure," says the artist.
The transposition from photo to work of art involved multiple calculations and estimates: Loderstedt had to conceptualize how the photograph would work across four very large (5' square) panels, the maximum size of each determined by the width of the digital loom, while their overall scale was determined by the particular space, they would occupy in the Juve Family Behavioral Health Pavilion. Spaces inside the pavilion can be quite large, so that many artworks would be simply too small to introduce without making them seem lost or overwhelmed. Here the artist worked with Summa Health to attain the right scale and then with the mill in North Carolina that turns artists' digital files into weavings on large commercial looms (too large for any single artist to own personally but available to artists when a commercial run has room to accommodate "extra" footage).
The color algorithms Michael Loderstedt chose for their visual impact and then tweaked details of the image, color saturation, and composition with the beholder in mind. Always on his own mind was the medical setting, so he was influenced by imaging techniques both familiar (CAT-scans, X-radiographs) and exotic to create something that he wanted to feel "futuristic," in alignment with the aspirations of the medical-health care/research complex in Akron and, more widely, Northeast Ohio. At the same time, the materiality of the weaving -- it's obvious warp and weft of threads, even as also creating an image -- he hopes offers a point of reference for us to pose questions about the relationship between the "handmade" and digital fabrication, "in perhaps the same ways robotics [can] help surgeons, or MRIs pinpoint anomalies within the body."
It's helpful to have the original photograph in mind in order to locate the ship's carpenter (in the third panel from left), from which we can sort out the various components of the shipyard, the neighborhood behind, and the boats themselves on the canal. With the historic document as a kind of touchstone, we can appreciate the artist's efforts to emphasize the qualities that result from digitalization. They give the panels a shimmery, almost ghostly quality that feels appropriate for this scene long-gone but very much a part of the history, the character of the city of Akron.
Michael Loderstedt's fascination with historical views of Akron also gave rise to an earlier commission by Summa Health, his Y-Bridge (Twilight) of 2019, which was also a digital photograph translated into weaving.
Other digital views of the city in the Summa Collection include work by Joe Levack and Scott Goss. Views of Akron in other media are to be found in work by Ibojka Maria Friedman, Rita Montlack, María Alejandra Zanettia, Timothy Callaghan, Lizzie Aronhalt, and Diane Pribojan.
Y-Bridge (Twilight), 2019
Materials: Digital tapestry in cotton, 42” x 60”
Location at Summa Health: Dr. Gary B. and Pamela S. Williams Tower on the Akron Campus (141 N. Forge St.), blue neighborhood, fourth floor, hallway outside patient rooms H4-131 and H4-132
Commissioned by Summa Health
This aerial view of an important transportation link in Akron was captured on video by a camera on the undercarriage of a medical rescue helicopter crossing the Cuyahoga River valley; the camera was pointed from Cuyahoga Falls toward the Akron skyline. Noted Cleveland photographer Michael Loderstedt found the video online and selected a frame available as a digital file; he then manipulated color, with pale blues suggesting the early morning, to highlight certain areas and emphasized the high, distant view by accentuating the curvature of earth’s horizon. The sweep of the elevated point of view also gives the beholder a feeling of reassurance, even power.
The artist then sent the resulting digital file to a mill in Henderson, North Carolina, that uses automated digital loom technology to do consumer weaving. The mill wove the picture file, pixel by pixel, using cotton thread, to create this work. It is at once a photograph, a weaving, and a complex, unique digital product that, in recognizable details like trees and others that only resolve themselves into yellow streams of headlights in traffic when we step back from the surface, remind us of the pointillist paintings of the 19th century. Loderstedt has created about a dozen pieces using these techniques, in an effort to find new ways of presenting photographs and in an effort to find new ways of presenting photographs and photo-based work such that viewers will look at them with fresh eyes. What might look simple at first glance turns out to have multiple layers of technical and historical references that make us appreciate all the tools available to artists today.
The finished piece today hangs at one end of a hall from which you can glimpse the Y-Bridge in the distance; it further enriches the Summa Collection of images of our Akron home (for additional Akron images, see the works in the collection by Diana al-Hadid, Lizzi Aronhalt, Tim Callaghan, Ibojka Friedman, Scott Goss, Joe Levack, Rita Montlack, Diane Pribojian, and María Alejandra Zanetta). Loderstedt points out that when we learn the context in which the original image was made – from a medical helicopter at work -- we will also recognize the importance of the high-quality medical care available in the region.
In focusing on the Y-Bridge, the artist also calls our attention to both the geographical feature, the Cuyahoga River, as well as to the human solution for crossing it, both of which have been critical to Akron’s history. The present Y-Bridge was built in 1981-82, replacing the older North Hill Viaduct. The latter was celebrated in 1986 by Akron-born United States Poet laureate Rita Dove, when she wrote “Under the Viaduct, 1932.” This poem was published first in Callaloo and then in Thomas and Beulah, Dove’s book of poetry about her family, which won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize. So Loderstedt invites us to appreciate the physical, topographical landmarks, familiar to all in Akron and throughout our region, as well as leading us to recognize their life in poetry and literature, celebrated by a world-famous native daughter.