ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Tamarind Institute is gathering 40 years of printmaking in a retrospective rendered both personal and provocative.
Opening on Friday, Aug. 24, “Random Search: Mining the Archives of Tamarind Institute” was curated by the gallery’s first curator-in-residence, Lowery Stokes Sims.
Sims’ résumé includes curatorial roles at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem and the Museum of Arts and Design.
Both virtual and physical, the exhibition features about 25 figurative works.
“This is definitely a new perspective,” Tamarind Director Diana Gaston said, “pairing prints together that haven’t been seen together in a grouping and with a few surprises that haven’t been seen.”
New York artist Lesley Dill’s “Hummingbird Dress,” 2013, is a seven-color lithograph with the skirt folded into a kind of accordion pleat scattered with the poetry of John Milton.
“She is a sculptor as well as a printmaker,” Gaston said. “A lot of her work deals with the body through clothing.”
Dill is known for incorporating poetry excerpts into her pieces, particularly the work of Emily Dickinson.
Nigerian artist Toyin Ojih Odutola created a tribute to her brother with “Birmingham (right),” 2014, a four-color lithograph with gold leaf.
“She’s lived in the States for most of her life,” Gaston said. “Her subjects are always family or friends. She captures this kind of ephemeral moment. She’s incredibly observant. These are almost private.”
“Kansas Gold,” 2013, by Chris Pappan is a triptych of a Native American face. Pappan is of Kanza, Osage and Cheyenne River Sioux descent.
“It begins to address this kind of dual existence,” Gaston said. ” ‘Two-faced’ is one way to say it. It’s about conflicted identity, especially among the Native American population.”
Robert Pruitt rewinds to the 1960s protest movements with his “People’s Party II,” 2014, a two-color lithograph.
“If you look closely, the woman has a backpack,” Gaston said. “When you look closer, you see it’s a remnant of a bicycle. There’s always something deceptive in how he looks at adornment or clothing. She looks like she’s ready to do battle.”
Fritz Scholder’s “Indian With Beaded Sash,” 1975, continues the artist’s exploration of Native stereotypes through humor. Scholder often paired ceremonially dressed Native people in contemporary settings: eating an ice cream cone or sitting in a folding chair.
“Scholder, of course, is very well-known and kind of the Andy Warhol of Native American pop,” Gaston said. “He looked at the absurdity of the way Native Americans were portrayed in the ’60s and ’70s. He was also seeing the hypocrisy with which white culture would identify them not as contemporary people but historic.”
Similarly, Corrales’ Jaune Quick-to-See Smith shows her playful side pairing naturalism (butterflies and moths) with a fashion model’s eye, a cartoon-like rabbit and a traditional Native jacket in “Eye Candy.”
“It’s ‘eye candy’ as kind of a pejorative,” Gaston said. “We refer to beautiful people as ‘eye candy.’ There’s always a trickster in her work. It can be very wry but playful at the same time.”
Tamarind founder June Wayne’s fingerprint “Visa Monday,” 1976, is downright prescient in an era of looming touch ID and iris recognition.
“If you look at it closely, there’s the suggestion of a face,” Gaston said. “It is very telling, as we’re more and more identified by our DNA. There’s definitely something ominous about it.”