A Fresh Look

C’ville native’s sculpture gives face lift to dermatologist’s office

“Santé” is a wall sculpture completed by Crawfordsville High School graduate Matt Steele that was commissioned by a Charlotte, North Carolina dermatologist.
“Santé” is a wall sculpture completed by Crawfordsville High School graduate Matt Steele that was commissioned by a Charlotte, North Carolina dermatologist.
Lydia Bittner-Baird

A Crawfordsville native’s sculpture has given a fresh look to a dermatologist’s office in North Carolina.

Matt Steele, a 2005 Crawfordsville High School graduate who resides in Charlotte, North Carolina, was commissioned by the doctor to create a rendering of a face that was installed onto the recently renovated building last month.

The sculpture, called “Santé” after the French word for health, is made from 150 sheets of aluminum composite that were coated with a metallic paint. It took more than 10,000 pieces of fastening hardware to piece it all together. The sculpture measures 20-by-20-by-13 ft.

“This is the first project where I couldn’t do a lot of it myself. I had to outsource a lot of the work,” Steele said by phone last week from the Tar Heel state. This was his first public outdoor sculpture.

As her office was being remodeled, dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth Rostan envisioned a piece of art that reflected her practice’s role as a health care provider while enhancing the surrounding neighborhood.

“It was important to me to not only preserve a building that was built in the 1970s and maintain its historical charm, but also to bring art and a landmark piece of outdoor art to an area that is quickly becoming defined by brick towers,” Rostan, owner of Charlotte Skin and Laser, wrote in a blog post on the business’ website.

After creating a digital rendering, Steele worked with the manager of a university fabrication lab and a structural engineer to make the design suitable for a building.

The owner of a local design company used a CNC router to cut out each plane. Steele chose a copper finish for the pieces.

“When it came time to order the material, we found out that it only came in that color on one side,” he said, which required the crew to hire a commercial painter.

A professional installation crew hoisted the last piece onto the building a year to the day after Steele began the design process.

The project opens the door to commissions for public sculptures commissioned by airports and cities. Steele has also completed interior public pieces.

A graduate of Indiana University, Steele moved to Charlotte for a residency at an arts organization, where he then worked as a graphic designer.

In a former tire shop that was transformed into a public art space, Steele took apart the tire racks to make a 70 ft. sculpture. He’s also built a piece from an old mantel in his home.

“I’ve always sort of been influenced by the aesthetic of function and infrastructure and just the things that people make,” he said.

After developing several unsuccessful proposals for outdoor public sculptures, Steele was building a collection of projects titled “Nothing is Working” when he got the call about the dermatologist’s office. “Santé” opens the door for Steele to bid on creating outdoor public sculptures for airports and cities.

Steele’s portfolio also includes animation work. During North Carolina’s stay-at-home order this spring, he partnered with a musician from the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra on an animation for an outdoor art experience.

For more information about Steele’s work, visit www.mtsteele.com.


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