I work in series of etchings linked by theme. Visual books offered me new possibilities for the continuity, connection, and unfolding of my prints -- each image is complete in itself, yet linked to every other through the structure of the book. In 1989 I founded Bridge Press, now in Westminster Station, Vermont, to publish limited edition artist's books and etchings.
I stumble upon less technical and more makeshift approaches to etching. I start out broadly, a little uncontrolled, but with a clear geometric underpinning. I don’t really want to know exactly how the image will look beforehand — too many unexpectedly and potentially satisfying things may happen to exclude the accidental or the momentarily inspired ahead of time. I work on dozens of etchings at once. The process of etching is physical and elemental, requiring force and pressure, inviting aggression and then delicacy, conjoining fire, water, earth, and air. There is something about etching an image into metal that implies permanence, duration, and enduring presence, and I hope my images mirror the medium in that sense.
I am attracted to large, futile, and obsolete things. I love movement and transportation. I like things that people have made and placed in the world, even what fails to remain vital and functioning over time but lurks about in the collective memory. A train is an emblem and vehicle of a journey through the world. Bridges look like how they work, trajectory and movement shaped to shifts and transitions in the land. The zeppelin is an airship floating over the world, aloof, but hard to miss.
I am as often inspired by what I read or listen to as by what I see. I look back at images from old postcards and photographs, or at older books. I embrace themes of loss, futility, destruction, and unexpected, redemptive beauty, themes tied to the tradition of printmaking, whose imagery has always tended toward critical commentary and serious contemplation, and often toward humor and irony as well.
Artist’s books and prints by Brian D. Cohen have been shown in forty individual exhibitions, including a retrospective in 1997 at the Fresno Art Museum, and he has participated in over 150 group shows. Cohen's books and etchings are held by major private and public collections throughout the country, including Yale, Harvard, Brown, and Stanford Universities, Middlebury, Smith, Wellesley, Swarthmore, and Dartmouth Colleges, the University of Vermont, The New York Public Library, The Library of Congress, and the Philadelphia and Portland (Oregon) Museums of Art, as well as the United States Ambassador's residence in Egypt. He was first-place winner of major international print competitions in San Diego, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.