Ethereal Etchings from Leonardo Drew, a Sculptor Venturing into Printmaking

Leonardo Drew grew up in a public housing project not far from the dump. Now based in Brooklyn, he is perhaps best known as a sculptor whose works consist of found material, both natural and manmade: scraps of wood, tree branches and roots, paper, mud, and a variety of other urban flotsam and jetsam, often collected by homeless people the artist has hired for the job.

But Crown Point Press, in San Francisco, invited Drew to their studios to work alongside master printers on a different kind of project. The captivating results are on display in a new show called “Eleven Etchings.”

Kathan Brown, founder of the fine art print shop, has said Drew approached the project in an unexpected way. Unlike many artists who come to Crown Point to work on a limited series of etchings, Drew wasn’t interested in drawing. He wanted to work from photographs—pictures of his sculptural works, including carefully arranged bundles of wood scraps—and transfer those images onto plates. He could then experiment with different materials in the printmaking process.

Perhaps it comes as no surprise, then, that Drew’s new etchings, like his sculptures, are earthy, almost ethereal. Many of his installations evoke the city, the forest, or some sort of urban wasteland; the same could be said of his etchings. Several pieces, such as CPP6 (2015), look like maps of geographical landscapes viewed from above. Still others are reminiscent of the night sky, of starry nightscapes and distant galaxies.

Though transformed, these print pieces still contain the essence of Drew’s sculptural work. The earthy, textural prints speak to their creator’s lifelong fascination with the spaces we inhabit, the temporal nature of human existence, and the trash and treasure we accumulate along the way.


Bridget Gleeson


Leonardo Drew: Eleven Etchings” is on view at Crown Point Press, San Francisco, Feb. 25–Apr. 2, 2016.

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