I have survived the first week at the Tamarind Institute of lithography. It wasn’t easy! The work keeps piling on with classes and demos and trying to squeeze in some semblance of a life in there somewhere. I’ve been putting in some pretty late hours right from day one as I’ve shared with you. I am lucky to have seven other terrific class mates, all very kind, focused and serious about their work. Week one was about settling in and getting used to the studio, equipment and each other. We needed something to print so there was a push to finish drawing on our respective stones and plates. The challenge of course was not to get too caught up on the aesthetics of a very basic gray-scale assignment, suppressing our “artist side” from kicking in and delaying the proofing and printing stages where we have the most to learn.
We have been given a lot to digest and put into practice and I feel like I’ve learned so much already. It’s amazing how intimidating the atmosphere is at first though. I can’t speak for everyone but I know a few of us are second-guessing ourselves even when it comes to the most basic things in lithography, things we’ve done a million times before. We are learning a new and better way of working so old habits (perhaps bad habits) must quickly be shed. The biggest challenge still lies ahead as we have been paired up with a partner for printing. Each team must share a press and negotiate getting through their own work while still relying on their “assistant” or “sponger” at the press. Unfortunately things can get a little tense but there is so much to learn through these dynamics. I look forward to developing better communication skills- it will be impossible to progress without them.
I was in over the weekend as well, tearing down paper and printing trial proofs in preparations for my first edition.
This is my studio partner for the next several weeks, Kate Goyette, working away at our press station.
We will eventually rotate through partners and presses so as to not get too comfortable. The presses at Tamarind are motorized, save one, which is a real treat and so much less back-breaking and shoulder straining then the printing I’ve been doing at Open Studio. Working with extremely knowledgable assistants has also allowed me to slow down a little and focus my energy on controlling the variables at the press.
We each have two gorgeous litho stones to work on and have corresponding ball grained plate projects for each technique covered.
The studio is essentially divided into two parts, the education studio and the “pro-side” as it’s called. I was quick to react early on in the week and got a very brief stint of sponging in on the pro-side. I’ve never been more nervous in my life! Along with a rotating schedule of general studio monitor type tasks, like restocking studio consumables, sponging will be a regular duty of ours.
The pro-side seems to be overwhelmed with work right now, lucky for us! We will assist the two printers on staff Bill Lagattuta, Master Printer, and Kellie Hames who is the Senior Printer, having just finished the PTP program in May 2012. I am truly looking forward to this time. After three months of sponging for printer Christian LePoul at Atelier Circulaire in Montreal way back in my university years, I never thought I’d be so enthused about sponging but I know first hand how much one can learn in this capacity.
I sponged for Kellie as she worked on several coloured proofs for Brazilian artist Sidney Amaral. Sidney has been in residence for the entire week finishing up work on a couple of editions corresponding with a show in the Tamarind Gallery: AFRO: BLACK IDENTITY IN AMERICA AND BRAZIL. I had seen Willie Cole’s work and heard him speak in New Orleans this past March when I was there for the SGCI 2012 conference but I am not familiar with any of the other artists. A very interesting exhibition… what do you think???
Toyin Odutola has been at Tamarind this past week as well. She has a vivacious and jovial personality and both she and her artwork infused the studio with a unique atmosphere. Tolene and Sidney collaborated on a gorgeous piece together and a closing reception was held in the gallery on Friday August 24. A few students and I accompanied the artists and some of the Tamarind staff to an informal dinner afterwards at a restaurant I could have sworn was an auto body shop from it’s location and outward appearance. There was far too much meat on the menu prepared in far to many ways if you ask me but the beer was cheap! A great way to end the first week of classes and keep me wanting more this week.