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97-year-old artist enters intricate bird structures made of file folders in ArtPrize 2021

Hank Fleischer only started creating pieces of art at 84 years old, after spending most of his life working as an engineer on the east side of the state
Birds of a Feather
Posted at 3:55 PM, Sep 17, 2021

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Hank Fleischer is now 97 years old and participating in an ArtPrize for the second time. Shockingly, he only started creating pieces of art at the age of 87, after spending nearly his entire life working as an engineer.

Fleischer creates intricate paper structures built entirely out of different-colored file folders. This year he has what he calls a "trilogy" of creations in ArtPrize, his submission called Birds of a Feather.

“Sometimes I have a specific design in mind, and sometimes I just let my creativity wander,” Fleischer told FOX 17.

Hank's father started making art himself in his later years.

He was a child prodigy at the end at the age of 80... I wasn't quite as smart as he was; I started at 84,” he explained with a smile.

His piece this year has to be seen to be believed. He doesn't paint any of the paper he uses, only creates the lines and patterns through using different-colored folders.

“All together, I've got about a little over two years of work in the three pieces, but patience is very important,” he said.

He says his piece typically take him about 50 to 60 hours to complete, depending on the size.

Birds of a Feather consists of three main pieces — his peacock took 11 months and about 1,000 hours to complete, his phoenix took almost seven months and 700 hours, and his turkey took five months and just under 500 hours to complete.

“Once you look at the shapes and geometry, and the angles and trigonometry, and the equations in algebra, it's all so beautiful," Fleischer explained.

"And if you look at the details of any of these, you will be rewarded.”

You can find more info on Hank Fleischer's work at his website, and see when he will be holding virtual Zoom sessions during ArtPrize.

Fleischer's ArtPrize entry can be seen at the Hyatt Place in downtown Grand Rapids.

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