Saturday, March 16, 2013


Wow. What a(n almost) year it's been.

Let me start from the beginning. After graduation in May, I had a month to re-coop, relax and prepare for what would prove to be an amazing and busy couple of months. I had a day in June to move everything in, clean and organize my press station, and get settled before we had two artists in. The previous year Tamarind had attained funding for a large project that would span a month and a half. Usually it's typical to have just one artist in at a time for one or two weeks. In June and the first two weeks of August, we had two artists in at a time for two weeks each to participate in "Afro: Black Identity in Brazil and America." Three artists of African descent from Brazil, and three from North America were paired up to create work that addressed their heritage and identity as black individuals. Needless to say, it was a huge undertaking, and thankfully Asa Wentzel-Fisher, one of the senior printers from the previous year stayed on for an extra month to help with the first four artists. A group of filmmakers came in to document the collaborations and put out this video about the experience:

Alison and Rosana working on a collaborative piece.
The first pair was Alison Saar (USA) and Rosana Paulino (Brazil). I ended up working exclusively with Alison on a large diptych piece where two prints were created, sewn together, and a second layer was printed on a thin Japanese paper, hand cut, painted, then adhered to connect the two. The project was extremely exciting and rewarding, and certainly more challenging than most of what I had done during last year.
Alison was an absolute joy to work with, full of ideas, and an extremely hard working artist. Although I didn't get to work with Rosana, I did get to have some nice sit downs and chats with her, and concluded that she was a fantastic, warm-hearted woman, also with great talent.

After two weeks Willie Cole (USA) and Tiago Gualberto (Brazil) arrived. Tiago was an absolute joy to work with- energetic, bursting with creativity, and willing to work extremely hard. Willie was very kind, thoughtful, and deliberate about the work he created. Willie's work focused more on self identity, where Tiago's emphasized black identity as a larger overarching theme.

Tiago ended up with two prints of paper dolls (or "Pay per dolls" as he titled them), one male and one female that offered a main iconic black figure from classic paintings with different modern clothing that could be cut out and overlayed over the figure. For example, the female one had a central figure and then an outfit to make her look like Oprah Winfrey. He also did two prints of money, one Brazilian note, and one five dollar North American note. For fun he also created a sculpture and several drawings as well. Willie ended up with two personal crests using items that he identifies with, and that have been used numerous times in his work before such as irons, ironing boards, women and fancy shoes. Both finished prints ended up very vibrant and colorful. Or "zippy" as Rodney might call them.

The third and final pair of Sidney Amaral (Brazil) and Toyin Odutola (USA) came a month later during the first two weeks in August.  These two were also an absolute joy (notice a theme?) to work with. Toyin was lively, friendly, exuberant and extremely talented. Her work is a twist on classic portraiture. Toyin takes images of herself, family and friends, lays down a vibrant pattern of colors, then goes over the top with black, creating a finely-detailed, muscle-like structure that blocks out most of the color, except where it shines through, creating a woven like texture over small strips of vibrant color. The results are phenomenal, creating an intricate, beautiful pattern that speaks of a depth and beauty rarely seen in most portraits.

Bill and I pulling the last run on Sidney's proof
Sidney was absolutely amazing as well- kind to a fault, warm-hearted, easy to laugh, and a terrific draftsman. Sidney and I worked on two prints together, both using small areas of color with beautiful drawings on top. Sidney's work utilized elements of Yoruba tradition and mythology, as well as objects associated with Brazilian culture. Some of the best times, though, were the last day these two were here, when we got to take the day off and travel up to Santa Fe to look around and do some touristy things like trying on silly hats, and window shopping. Toyin has a great tumblr account, and back in August documented her time at Tamarind. Overall, the project was a great experience. It was a lot of work, but it was great collaborating with such fantastic people, and creating some really amazing prints. The video above shows interview with all of these artists, statements about their work, and a rare glimpse at all the prints that were created during their time here. Not all the prints are up for sale yet, but will be soon on Tamarind's website if you're interest in any of them.

Steve, Jean, Marge, me, and Lily with Jean's prints
The month of July was especially exciting. Bill went up to Washington to print with Jim Dine for the month, which meant I got to work exclusively with any artist that came in, hang out with the summer workshop group, and catch up on printing some editions. For a few days we had Jean Baptiste Apuatimi, her manager Steve Anderson, and Steve's daughter Lily in the studio. Jean was from the Tiwi Islands, off the north coast of Australia, and was one of the eldest indigenous artists working in the area.  She and Steve and Lily traveled to New Mexico because Jean had several of her paintings in a show in Santa Fe. Since they were relatively near Tamarind, Jean was invited in to create a few prints despite only being there for a few days. This meant we had to work quickly, which was no problem for Jean! In the short amount of time she was here we worked on five prints, proofed on a few different papers. The four prints we ended up editioning also had to be finished before Jean left the country, which left me with my work cut out. I was happy to do it, though, and Jean, Steve and Lily were wonderful company, and it was great to learn about Jean's community. Around the end of their visit I took a trip up to Santa Fe to see the opening of the show at Chiaroscuro where Jean's paintings were being shown. It was tradition for an elder of the community to "dance in" a welcome for the paintings, and Jean performed this dance.
Jean "dancing in" the paintings at Santa Fe's Chiaroscuro
Another fantastic part of July was getting to meet the aluminum plate summer workshop class. Like the printer training program, this class is open to eight students (though this year only had seven) and they come from all over the world to take a month long class from Rodney. I never got to participate in this class, so it was interesting to see the difference between the summer class, and the printer training program. I think the biggest difference was the sheer amount of demo's the summer class had! Every day it seemed like a new demo. With no deadlines or projects there was a much more relaxed atmosphere to the whole thing. The group was more international than our PTP class as well, with two girls from Australia, one from Ireland, one from Canada, and three from the USA. Everyone was enthusiastic, excited to be there, and willing to work hard every day. It was a lot of fun getting to know all of them.

Summer class 2012

 One of the funniest things was seeing this!:

Look familiar? One of my very first blog posts covered steam roller printing at the Plains Art Museum in Fargo. Dave Machacek, a member of ArtOrg in Northfield, MN participated in the summer class and brought in this little beauty. In the pictures from my early blog post Dave is the one driving the steam roller. What a small world, right?

The end of July was spent working with Alex Cerveny, a lovely Brazilian artist who made some beautiful, delicate drawings with me and Bill. Here he is with his awesome magnifying headpiece working on Nasografias. Here's a link to show the finished project, as well as the print Alex and I worked on entitled Human Nature.

The following month or so after Toyin and Sidney left was dedicated to catching up on printing editions, including the work from the Brazilian project, and a few gigantic prints Nicola Lopez had created earlier with senior printers from last year Alex and Asa. Did I mention they were huge? Because they're huge. And amazing.

Printing the last run on a 12 color print for Nicola Lopez.

When we had mostly caught up on pulling editions Bill and I decided to tackle one of our biggest obstacles, a 48 page book (12 sheets, printed front and back, and folded in half= 48). Thankfully the planning, layout and most of the plates were already finished, which just left pulling the editions. One of the challenges, though, was making the book cohesive despite two printers (me and Bill) printing it. This meant that Bill had to match my ink film, and I had to match his. It was a huge undertaking that took about two months of each of us printing every day to complete. The end results were stunning. The book is still in the process of being bound and finished, so I don't want to post too much about it. I will, however, show you how happy Bill was when the last page was completed.

Sooo happy!

One of my favorite encounters (in an long list of favorite encounters) was meeting Gendron Jensen, a contract artist who has been coming to Tamarind for many years. His work is jaw-dropping gorgeous, detailed and intricate. Gendron draws bones, exclusively, often collecting his own specimens in the field, and arranging them into new shapes. The three prints on the table in this picture is the triptych he created during his most recent visit, depicting a representation of King Arthur (middle) and two of his most trusted men (on either side) using wolf bones. Gendron is one of the kindest people I have ever encountered in my lifetime. We had many conversations about the importance of love, creativity, and appreciating the little things in life. I know many of the students were also impressed and touched by his warmth and good-naturedness during his visit.

Gendron was the last artist of 2012 that I worked with. 2013 has already brought with it three new artists- Chris Ballantyne, Matt Magee, and Allison Miller. Along with the ocassional monoprint artist, a large research project and a side project with Garo Antresean, I've definitely been keeping busy.

Chris was only able to stay for one week, instead of the usual two, but in that time still managed to create a large five color print, and four two color smaller prints. A good amount of work for just a week!  I was really drawn to Chris's work. It had a kind of quiet surrealism to it, and was fairly minimalistic while still being representational.

Shortly after Matt Magee visited and brought with him a whirlwind of printing. Matt knew exactly what he wanted to do, and was willing to work hard with Bill and I to get it all finished. In the two weeks he was here we created -EIGHT- prints with Matt! Here's an image with three of them completed on the wall, which Bill, Matt and I look at the outline for another 12 color image. Matt had a great sense of humor, was extremely kind, and was another one of those artists just bursting with creativity, making not only a ton of prints, but filling his time by making other drawings, paintings, and even some small sculptures in his free time.

Color mixing for Matt Magee
The latest artist I got to work with was Allison Miller, an abstract painter out of LA, who often incorporates pattern or almost decorative elements and combines them with a large overlaying object (often black or dark) that covers up a portion of the image. Like this one for example. Allison doesn't plan out her paintings, and works very intuitively, which was very interesting to watch. She was a lot of fun to work with, and had a great, easy to get along with personality, which makes any collaboration a joy. Allison and I ended up working on a large 12 color print during her visit, while she worked with Bill to create several monoprints utilizing acrylic paintings and printed elements. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures from her time here. She was a little camera shy, and I respect that.

Well, that's about it for collaboration update! Like I said, the next few months should be just as busy and exciting. Check back in a few days for an update on my research project (re-grainable Century plates from Dwight Pogue) and in a few weeks for a recap of the Southern Graphics conference in Milwaukee, WI. It's my first time attending an SGC conference, and I'm really looking forward to it!

*please note, most of these images were used with permission from Tamarind Institute's Facebook page, please do not re-use them without permission


Sherrie York said...

Hey, Kellie! I've missed you... and now I see why! Holy cow, but you've been busy! What an amazing experience... boggles the mind, really. Thanks for the update...

Michael Timmins said...

HI Kellie great blog seems like a ton of work for 1 senior printer Tamarind are getting their moneys worth!!

Well done


Kristian Berg said...

Hi Kellie, Love your blog - keep the stories coming! Thank you for letting Ben shoot with you and Bill when Gendron was creating his triptych. It was wonderful to chronicle his process at Tamarind. Our finished short film "Poustinia" is blessed by your presence! With warmth, Kristian