Alisa Toninato’s cast-iron-skillet U.S.A.

As reported by Katie Dean at 77 Square yesterday, sculptor Alisa Toninato (Milwaukee-trained, Madison-based) has been garnering a lot of attention for her state-shaped iron skillets. I first saw them when the entire Midwest was on display at Underground Kitchen. I was charmed and more than a little envious: I wanted to bring them home with me! I was particularly tickled that Michigan, like the other Midwestern states, had just one handle—but it forked to the U.P. on the right and the “mitten” on the left.

As Dean writes,

Through blogs and word of mouth, Toninato is winning fans across the country for her latest project, a map of the lower 48 states called “Made in America,” with each state recreated as a cast iron skillet. Even the arbiter of home and kitchen design herself, Martha Stewart, took notice, and invited Toninato to appear on her show in April.

Now, the United States skillet art project will be accessible to local gourmets. Toninato’s foundry, FeLion Studios (a combination of the periodic symbol for iron and her astrological sign, Leo) is bringing a separate commercial product to market so cooks can bake up a Wisconsin-shaped cornbread, or show their state pride on their stove as they fry up their brats.

“We’ve gotten so much positive feedback from the art pieces that we’re just using our gut and taking this risk and putting our personal investment into this production line,” Toninato said. “We all believe in it. It’s totally the American spirit.

“Hopefully other people dig it.”

Head here for the full article, then click over to the website of Toninato’s FeLion Studios where you can view pics of all the state skillets as well as photos from before and at her appearance on Martha Stewart’s program. For a brief but engaging introduction to the artist and her work, check out Toninato’s video bio from ArtPrize below.

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