Jim Carney

Michael Marras’ latest creation is a zombie head.

Not just your run-of-the mill zombie, but one made out of scrap metal, steel and other things he has found in junkyards.

Marras, 29, a Garfield High School graduate, has already made a family of figures out of junk by welding pieces of unwanted trash into dramatic sculptures.

The figures are part of a fantasy and science fiction world he is creating in a screenplay.

“I went to a junkyard and I realized how cheap I could get old scrap steel and things,” said Marras.

Several of his creations are on display through April 6 at Gallery 15 at 15 Broad St. in Akron.

For now, Marras works out of his parents’ Firestone Park garage.

“What I most enjoy is not knowing exactly what I am creating until it’s done,” said Marras, who received a computer animation degree from Full Sail University in Florida.

The pieces on display include a wolflike creature called Wolfboy that is listed for $14,000 and The Rebirth of Goji for $10,000.

Other pieces sell for as low as $50.

In order to better understand wolves, Marras trekked to the Cleveland Zoo and spent hours just staring at them.

The Goji figure, a robot kind of creature, and others like it “are warriors on the edge of time who are invincible,” said Marras. “These undefeatable warriors are guards between two parallel dimensions.”

Marras has developed friendships and support from two of Akron’s most important artists.

Sculptor Don Drumm believes Marras “is an up and coming young artist in the area and I think he has a great future ahead of him.”

When you look at Marras’ work, Drumm said, “you may not recognize that it is part of your lawn mower. That is what I like about his work. It wasn’t obvious … I hope he stays in the area and keeps working … I know he is going to grow.”

Drumm has sold some of Marras’ pieces in his Akron store, Don Drumm Studios & Gallery.

And sculptor John Comunale, who operates Comunale Sculptural Concepts in Akron, calls Marras “a bright star in the sculpture landscape. I love his work and his attention to detail. The hours he puts in and the dedication he puts in is amazing. He has fresh ideas.”

His parents, Barb and Bill Marras, are also huge fans.

“We were in awe,” when we saw his first big piece, said his mother, Barb Marras, a retired Akron school teacher.

Bill Marras, a retired architect with the city of Akron, calls his son’s work “amazing … He likes to build. He has a need to build.”

Marras started out making computer animations, but realized he wanted to make more traditional art.

“Why can’t I make stuff in real life?” Marras asked himself.

He learned to weld and got an apprenticeship with a metal sculptor in Florida. He later decided to come back to Ohio “where all the junk and the rust is.”

He uses a wide assortment of things in his work, including spoons, metal campaign signposts and even artificial teeth.

On Marras’ arm is a tattoo that reads, “remember have fun.”

He tries to live up to those words.

“I love the entire process from finding that first small piece of scrap to watching the sculpture take on a life of its own,” he said.

The most exciting part, Marras said, is watching the creation evolve.

“I enjoy that moment when the piece is done and I get to see something that no one else has ever seen,” he said.

He also gets a thrill out of working with the equipment he uses to cut and shape his art.

“I also very much enjoy doing a job that can cause serious injury,” he said.

Marras, a former Camp Christopher counselor, now works at a day care center for adults with special needs and hopes to be able to rent space for a studio after he sells one of his larger works.

“I love searching for things, especially when I have no idea what I am looking for,” said Marras. “I have the ability to see things in more ways than what they were originally intended.’’

He can take a pile of scrap “and turn it into something that you would never know was originally a bunch of rusty junk.”

As far as his calling to do this kind of work goes, Marras said, “I love to find scrap/junk that no longer has a purpose and turn it into something that provokes an emotion.”

It is very easy to ignore a pile of junk, Marras said, “until it is arranged a particular way and that’s all we have ever really done, rearrange what was here before us.”

For more on Marras, visit his website at www.mwmarras.com or email him at mwmarras@gmail.com.

His work will be on display until April 6 at Gallery 15 at 15 Broad St. in Akron along with the work of glass artist Lisa Demagall. For more on Gallery 15, go to www.gallery15.com.

His work will also be shown from 6 to 9 p.m. June 22 with 40 other artists at the smARTspace at 78th Street Studios in the Gordon Square Arts District at 1305 W. 80th St. in Cleveland at the Inspired Art Cleveland auction.

Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or at jcarney@thebeaconjournal.com.