The name Stoltzfus gives us a clue to the artist's background, since it is a surname shared by Mennonites who emigrated to the United States from Germany to set up a community that wished to preserve the purity of an agricultural way of life. The grandson of an Amish deacon, Stoltzfus relates to the unique interpretation of the Bible emphasizing both pacifism and the apocalypse. Stoltzfus' images of burning buildings and fiery storms recall this violent history as well as scenes from the films "Witness" and "Days of Heaven", two movies inspired by the singular beliefs of the Amish and Mennonite communities. He is conscious that his paintings are often dark in mood and that they reflect the sobriety of that life style. The history of the Mennonites provides him with a source for troubling imagery such as the burning figures and farmhouses that he sometimes paints.
Stoltzfus' technical process is complex. He paints in oil, but modifies his materials whenever he needs something different than what is available commercially. This might mean additions of raw pigment or crushed glass to change the viscosity of the paint and create a raised surface that has a tactile appeal and additional presence. Sometimes he incorporates small amounts of gold leaf in order to give the paintings the greatest possible optical range. The resulting surface changes as the light changes in the room. When these canvases are hung in natural light, the perceived image can completely shift during the course of a day. A painting may literally go from abstraction to landscape and then back again. Stoltzfus spends a great deal of time building layers of texture into the paintings through the gradual accumulation of paint. His obsession with tapping the full range of what paint can offer often creates a powerful luminosity, as if light were coming from the background and shining out of the painting.
Sotlzfus is a strong new voice in painting based on an implacable faith in craft and in the resonance of paint itself that, like the religion of his Mennonite forebears, can resist all efforts to stamp it out.