September 26, 2014

Tamarind Institute has on exhibit 20 new lithographs and monotypes created during the 2013 project, Landmarks: Indigenous Australian Artists and Native American Artists Explore Connections to the Land, together with other works by the participating artists. The exhibition opens July 25 and runs through September 26 in the Tamarind Gallery. The public is invited to a reception with the artists, August 21, from 5:30 — 7 p.m. at Tamarind. 

This project, partially funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, brought together two groups of artists from opposite sides of the world to explore the experience of collaborative lithography. Indigenous Australian artists from the Northern Territory and Native American artists from various locations in the United States and Canada traveled to Yrrikala, in the Northern Territory, and then came to Albuquerque to work with printers and students in Tamarind Institute’s workshop. 

On exhibition will be works by Native American artists Chris Pappan (Kaw, Osage, Cheyenne River Sioux), Marie Watt (Seneca), Jewel Shaw (Cree/Metis;),and Dyani Reynolds White Hawk (Sicangu Lakota). Indigenous Australian artists from the Northern Territories include Djirrirra WunungmurraMarie Josette Orsto, and Alma Granites Sims. A video about the project will be ongoing in the gallery.

According to Tamarind Director Marjorie Devon, “each artist gave a lot of themselves during this project. We heard stories of sadness and celebration; we heard traditional stories passed down through the generations, and stories that connect the artists to the land, and to other indigenous peoples. The seven artists who participated in the project come from very different cultures, and yet they are drawn together by common beliefs and experiences.” 

Chris Pappan draws heavily from traditional Native American “ledger” artists, as well as contemporary artists such as Coop, Kozik and Douglas Miles, who work Native American themes into comics, posters and skateboard designs. Much of Pappan’s work includes mirrored portraits of Native Americans, a metaphor for Natives of mixed heritage such as himself. Besides celebrating the synergy of melding cultures, the images represent the complexity of diverse influences. In addition to creating his images on historic ledgers, Pappan likes to work on old maps. Pappan says that whereas ledgers are a historical accounting of goods sold or traded, maps are an accounting of lands taken from Native Americans. He has incorporated both of these concepts in the lithograph, Kansas Gold. 

Alma Nungarrayi Granites Sims traveled from her home near Yuendumu, Northern Teritory. Sara Diane, Sims’ interpreter and the Art Coordinator for Warlukurlangu Artists’ Aboriginal Corporation, explains how indigenous artists are only allowed to create artwork about authorized topics. Alma inherited authority from her father to paint about dreams, and the journey a man takes to the sacred site of an initiation ceremony. On this journey, the local man falls in love with seven sisters; to avoid his pursuit, the sisters turn themselves into stars, but he follows by also turning himself into a star. When asked where she gets the inspiration to continue painting this theme each day, Sims explains that it’s customary in her community to sleep outdoors, using the buildings to store goods, so she has plenty of time to consider her compositions.

In Australia’s Tiwi Islands, Marie Josette Orsto works with a wooden comb to create the “dots” we often associate with Australian indigenous art. Tiwi Island designs originate from body painting, done for ceremonial dances or funerals. In the same vein, while at Tamarind, Orsto created a lithograph titled, Parmiji, or “arm bands.”

Jewel Shaw grew up in an area midway between Edmonton and the Northwest Territories in Canada. In a presentation given at Tamarind, she explained that she started collecting random objects while in college and used these objects as “talisman,” recognizing that each object tells a story. These objects helped her to create her own narrative to deal with her feeling of being disconnected to a past or traditions. Shaw shared in her artists talk that there are painful stories from her family’s past that she often processes through her art. She uses a spattering of objects, floating in negative space, she says, “to create space for contemplation.” 

The Albuquerque portion of the project was phase II of LandMarks. The artists met one another in April, when all of the artists and Tamarind’s Master Printer, Bill Lagattuta, travelled to the Northern Territories, on the northeast coast of Australia, to work at the Buku-Larrngay Mulka Art Centre. In addition to using woodblock and etching techniques, the Australian artists shared their traditional methods of bark painting. The artists and printers were taken on an excursion to collect bark and natural paints (yellow, black and red ochre) used in this process. Lagattuta said, “it was truly the experience of a lifetime to live among the Australian indigenous people, and to work and make art side-by-side. 

Tamarind has a history of inviting artists of diverse backgrounds to explore shared traditions through the collaborative process of lithography. The National Hispanic Cultural Center’s Fall 2014 exhibition will showcase lithographs from participants in the Tamarind project, Afro: Black Identity in America and Brazil.  Six artists of African descent visited Tamarind in bi-national pairs to create lithographs encompassing themes such as equality, inclusion, and identity in Brazil and the United States. 

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