Founder / Executive Director of The Stanford Creative Ignition Lab and Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering - Design
These two influences were apparent in Michael’s early work. He found success as a sculptor, fabricator, and product designer, earning his BFA from Alfred University School of Art and Design and MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Even in school Michael was a maverick, building wild sculptures that wedded different materials, exploring the intersection between anatomy and mechanics, always with a challenging social commentary.
In 1999 Michael set out to reinvent the idea of arts education, founding an art school that encourages a truly non-competitive learning environment. The Crucible started with only a conceptual design and a grant for $1,750, growing rapidly under Michael’s leadership to become the nation’s largest nonprofit industrial arts education facility. Michael designed facilities and programs that house 70 faculty and over 8,000 students annually.
Michael’s ability to approach creative challenges with tenacity and innovation made him a leader in the worlds of art and theater, opening new frontiers for cross-disciplinary collaboration. As part of The Crucible’s marketing and development outreach he designed, directed, and produced stunning theatrical events uniting industrial arts processes with stagecraft and all manner of performing arts. His Fire Arts Festivals, Fire Operas, and Fire Ballets defined a new genre of entertainment in the Bay Area and attracted extremely diverse audiences from around the country.
After twelve years at the helm, Michael retired from The Crucible to seek out new creative challenges, and found them at Stanford. Michael accepted a teaching appointment in the Mechanical Engineering Design Group. He has been teaching at Stanford’s d.school, where he directed the ReDesigning Theater Project, and is now the Founder and Executive Director of the Stanford Creative Ignition Lab. This new lab is exploring the potential for visual, experiential, and embodied thinking to advance the future of learning, design, and making. The program aims to pioneer new ways to more purposefully bring the tools of invention and production seamlessly into our creative processes.
When not trying to reinvent the world, Michael enjoys restoring his 1875 Victorian home, building in his studio, and conducting experimental cooking adventures. You can see his work at michaelsturtz.com.