Mitch Iburg Diagenesis
past event — exhibition
date and location
Apr 30th — Jun 25th, 2022
Opening Reception 6pm - 8pm

Sage Culture Gallery
725 E Washington Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90021
past event — exhibition
Diagenesis (n): The physical and chemical changes occurring during the conversion of sediment to sedimentary rock

Sage Culture is pleased to present "Diagenesis," a solo exhibition by the American ceramic artist Mitch Iburg.

The works in this exhibition portray the artist's ongoing exploration of clay and mineral resources collected from the Minnesota River Valley and their conversion from raw materials to finished art forms.

Through various approaches to working, Mitch Iburg is interested in showcasing the unique properties and geologic history of these resources through the distinct stages of his studio practice: examination of raw materials, research and testing, production of forms, and reclamation of waste. During each stage, he carefully observes and adjusts his physical presence to achieve a balance between the intrinsic voice of materials and his own creative intent.

Collectively, the research and work presented are the culmination of an evolving relationship with this region and its resources over a five-year time span.
Throughout time, the landscape of Southwestern Minnesota has documented intervals of stillness and transformation as the region was inundated by ancient seas, carved by rivers, and scoured by glaciers. These natural forces reworked, sorted, and compacted sediments to form highly detailed records of Earth's geologic history.

In an effort to preserve this history, the artist's 'Raw Material Studies' archive the intrinsic properties of 40 unfired clay samples collected from a single site in the Minnesota River Valley. The highly varied colors, textures, stones, and organic impurities found within these samples reflect the diverse geological and environmental processes through which the clays were formed - a history that inevitably becomes lost in the later stages of clay preparation and making.

Prior to use in the studio, each clay is extensively tested to develop a deeper understanding of its properties. The testing stage is informed by many questions: How will a clay look when fired? What impurities are present, and how will they affect the outcome? What is the geologic context?

Answers to these questions arise from firing raw samples, developing color blend tests, and examining other materials found at the collection site. The research stage involves both intuitive explorations as well as systematic testing. Collectively, these two ways of working help identify the expressive potential and limitations of each material.

At the heart of the artist's research lies an interest in using the region's white-firing kaolinitic clays - ancient deposits formed through the weathering of granitic bedrock. Due to their rarity, these materials are reserved for finishes applied to the surface of the work before firing. Through extensive color blend tests, they are systematically mixed to achieve a variety of subtle hues and textures.

The gallery is excited to introduce the continuity of the Anamnesis series, first presented four years ago at Mitch's first solo exhibition with Sage Culture.

The sculptural forms of Mitch's 'Anamnesis' series respond to the dramatic movements found within the region's geologic formations as well as deeper archetypal expressions of Earth in a state of flux. These hand-built forms reinterpret the forces of the Earth's tectonic plates, the stratified layering of sediments, and the erosion of stone.

The balance and gesture of each form is first developed through a series of maquettes. Through this process, many original features are rearranged until the resulting expressions become distant memories of the landforms that once inspired them.

In an effort to reduce waste and present materials through diverse ways of working, sand and mineral impurities removed from the clays are thoroughly washed, sorted by color, and treated as coarse pigments in the artist's painting series, 'The Conservation of Matter.'

In order to produce the paintings for this exhibition, debris was collected from five clay deposits over a period of two years. Each deposit yields a unique geological signature - sand, silt, and stones that are naturally present in the clay - as well as varying levels of impurities brought by glaciers and rivers. When examined independently, these impurities convey a deeper expression of each clay's origins and chemistry.

Join us for the opening reception of Diagenesis, with the artist's presence, on Saturday, April 30th, from 6 to 8 pm at Sage Culture DTLA.

Please RSVP through the email: to confirm your presence, and receive additional information about the opening event.
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