Mitch Shea

The National Sculpture Society (NSS) awards Mitch Shea the 2024 Alex J. Ettl Grant. The Ettl Grant is given to sculptors who have demonstrated a commitment to sculpting and an outstanding ability in their body of work. The grant consists of an unrestricted cash prize of $5000.

NSS Fellows Nilda Comas (from FL), Michael Aaron Hall (from UT) and Wesley Wofford (from NC) served as jurors for this year’s grant. Wofford feels that “Shea’s sculpture is superb and illustrates a mastery of our artform. His work transcends the academic with an elegant language based on a deep understanding of anatomy overlaid with a palpable emotional presence. His fragments are beautiful, and his portraits are intimate and intensely felt.”

Michael Aaron Hall adds, “The artworks of Mitch Shea are beautiful, compelling and, more importantly, they connect with the viewers on a deeply emotional level, making them true works of art and a pleasure to experience. His sculpture is in concert with the highest traditions of the National Sculpture Society and the world of figurative art.”

From 2007-2010, Shea attended the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, CA. There he studied illustration, metalworking, and worked on a variety of Bay Area public monuments. In 2011, he relocated to Florence, Italy to study sculpture and drawing at The Florence Academy of Art. As a student, he received numerous accolades before transitioning to teaching in 2013. Shea is now the director of the Sculpture Program at The Florence Academy of Art, a position he has held since 2018. His work may be found in private collections throughout the United States, Europe, and the Middle East.

The National Sculpture Society first awarded the Alex J. Ettl Grant in 1989. Alex J. Ettl (1898–1992) served on the NSS board and established the award in his name with an endowed gift. Previous recipients include Richard Blake, sculptor of Frederick Douglass for New Bedford, MA, and Benjamin Victor, sculptor of four works in the National Statuary Hall Collection in Washington, DC.