May 2, 2013

LandMarks: Aboriginal Australian Artists and Native American Artists explore connections to the land

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The LandMarks project was conceived to give diverse indigenous artists the opportunity to work as a community, share experiences and artistic styles, and explore a common spiritual connection to the land. Tamarind Institute brought together two groups of artists from opposite sides of the world to participate in the experience of collaborative printmaking. 

The artists were selected based on the quality and subject matter of their work.  Native American artists included Chris Pappan (Kaw, Osage, Cheyenne River Sioux); Marie Watt (Seneca); Jewel Shaw (Cree/Metis); and Dyani Reynolds White Hawk (Sicangu Lakota). Australian artists included  Djirrirra Wunungmurra (Buku-Larrngay Mulka), Marie Josette Orsto (Tiwi Design), and Alma Sims (Warkulurangu Art Center).

The artists first met in April 2013, when the American artists, together with Tamarind’s Master Printer, Bill Lagattuta, travelled to the Northern Territories, on the northeast coast of Australia, to work at the Buru-Larrngay Mulka Art Center. 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 pigments (yellow, black and red ochre) used in this process. Lagattuta said, “it was truly the experience of a lifetime to live among the Australian aboriginal people, and to  work and make art side-by-side.

During the month of May, 2013, Australian Aboriginal artists from the Northern Territory and Native American artists from various locations in the United States and Canada traveled to Albuquerque to work with printers and students at Tamarind Institute. Many of the artists had not had the opportunity to explore the unique expressive tools and visual language of the lithographic process. For several of the artists visiting from Australia this was their first experience traveling out of the Northern Territories. These artists traveled with companions who facilitated communication, allowing for the success of the project.  A key element of the project was not only to give artists a new vocabulary through the printmaking process, but also to open new vistas as the artists absorbed new landscapes and traditions.

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(above) Dyani Reynolds White Hawk draws on a stone at Tamarind.

(left) Alma Sims works on her lithographs in the Tamarind studio.

(below) All seven artists and companions enjoyed a festive evening with the Tamarind staff and students, highlighted by a performance of traditional dances by the Australian participants. 

Tamarind staff with participants in the LandMarks project.

 LandMarks was partially funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.