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Printing Plate for "e+l+e+m+e+n+t+a+l"

by Norie Sato

Published onSep 21, 2020
Printing Plate for "e+l+e+m+e+n+t+a+l"

Printing Plate for e+l+e+m+e+n+t+a+l, 2011
Norie Sato (Japanese- American, b. 1949)
AISB for Hach Hall. In the Art on Campus Model and Maquette Collection, Christian Petersen Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. U2012.99ab

Norie Sato’s complex artwork e+l+e+m+e+n+t+a+l stands in Hach Hall, incorporating many individual components—from etched glass doors to a long display case filled with blown-glass objects—into a large installation that pays homage to the work of the chemists and other researchers who make their academic home in Hach.  Originally trained as a printmaker, Sato also included prints encapsulating aspects of the piece.  In addition to Sato’s installation itself, the collections of the University Museums incorporate many preparatory drawings, sketches, architectural renderings, and plans for individual elements of the piece.  Among these materials, the University Museums collections include this copper plate, from which Sato’s print images would have been created. 

For printmakers, a work of art is “finished” when it becomes a print, whether on paper, cloth, or some other material.  Viewers typically do not see the block or plate, which is not considered a work of art in itself.  But the printmaker spends far more time with the plate than with the print.  It is the plate, more than the print, that bears evidence of the artist’s touch; and the plate, more than the print, on which the printmaker lavishes her attentions.  Prints may be pulled along the way to test the plate, to ensure that it is progressing as the printmaker desires it to; but until the plate is completed, these test prints exist to serve the needs of the plate, rather than the other way around.  Inclusion of materials like this in the University Museums collections allow us to see the artist’s working processes and thought processes, and thus to understand a little bit better how artists put their expertise into action to create complex and meaningful works of art.

-Dr. Emily Morgan

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