Palimpsest, the latest installation in the Minneapolis Club’s Curtis Gallery, showcases work from local artist Brian Sago. A printmaker and photographer, Sago’s work blends science, math, botany and history, and he states that many images in the collection are inspired by dreams.
A palimpsest is a document that has been scraped clean to make way for new work, while faint images of the original remain. The 11 prints on display were created by hand-etching designs into hand-cut copper plates. “The prints in this exhibit stand as a bit of a counterpoint to the Edward Curtis prints on the opposite wall,” notes Sago, observing that both are printed using an etching press. “Knowing the exhibition space led to an interesting challenge in preparing and selecting the work,” he writes.
The plates were made by reusing engraver’s copper, scraping down old images that had been etched into the plates, then cutting them into new, organic shapes.
It may not look like it at first, but there’s a lot of science that goes into these prints. The organic shapes were inspired by seed pods, tattered leaves and aged pieces of wood. Chemistry is required in the etching, craft-level precision in inking, wiping and printing copper plates by hand. There’s a nurturing aspect to both science and art that blends together in the 600-year-old technique of etching plates.
Plates were worked in part at Arms & Armor, a local blacksmith that specializes in reproductions of medieval tools. Many thanks to the blacksmiths there for lessons in using a plasma cutter to alter the shapes of the plates from the typical rectangle.
A native of St. Louis, Sago now teaches printmaking and photography at The Blake School.
A personal tour of the exhibit with the artist can be arranged. Contact Brian at email@example.com or 612-940-9470. The exhibit is open until February 29.