Sculpture: "Mike's Pan Tree"

Artist: Michael Helbing, Berwyn, Ill.

Michael Helbing, a professional metal artist for 42 years, found inspiration for "Mike's Pan Tree" through his longtime fascination with trees and other natural forms, coupled with his interest in recycling discarded consumer products. He notes that constructing natural forms from man-made objects — including pans with copper bottoms that eventually will turn green, resembling leaves — carries an implicit cultural comment about the interaction between modern human life and the natural world.

Helbing loves the versatility of his Miller® welders and the plasticity and permanence of metal. "It is extremely versatile — you can bend it, weld it, etc. It is durable and won't break or rot, and stainless won't rust. So it'll last. These qualities also mean that there are very few limitations imposed on the artists working in metal, which is extremely appealing."