Tamarind Institute at The University of New Mexico has welcomed artist Robyn O’Neil for a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)-funded residency. The WPA-inspired artist residency series RESET responds to art in times of a pandemic.

Artist residencies have been at the heart of Tamarind Institute’s mission for as long as the program has been in existence. 

“An artist is an artist and the medium is only the vehicle,” Tamarind founder June Wayne wrote to textile designer Anni Albers, one of many artists who collaborated with Tamarind’s team in its first decade in Los Angeles (1960-70), prior to the workshop’s move to Albuquerque and the University of New Mexico. This opportunity for contemporary artists to grow in their studio practice simultaneously challenges printers to push the envelope, develop new approaches to translate an artist’s vision, and thus keep the lithography process vital.

Robyn O’Neil mainly makes drawings. Working in massive as well as small formats with intense precision, her work has been interpreted as epic, mystic, apocalyptic, psychologically deep, real, Zen, and more. O’Neil is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant, an Artadia grant, and the Hunting Prize. Her work was included in the 2004 Whitney Biennial. She has had several traveling solo museum exhibitions in the United States, and her work is included in over fifty noted museums throughout the world. 

In addition to writing and directing We, The Masses, which was conceived of at Werner Herzog’s Rogue Film School, she also hosts the weekly podcast Me Reading Stuff. O’Neil’s work is represented by Susan Inglett Gallery, Talley Dunn Gallery, Inman Gallery, and Western Exhibitions. 

O’Neil’s residency is part of a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)-funded project. Alluding to pandemic upheaval and resilience, RESET is inspired by a significant WPA Federal Art Project in the 1930s that paid artists to learn how to make screen prints to promote public service announcements and civic responsibility. Printmaking has always surfaced during periods of great social turmoil, and Tamarind has an established program to give shape to this ambitious endeavor. 

Like the WPA project, RESET offers artists an opportunity to explore the possibilities of collaborative printmaking and a timely project that responds to this moment in American history. The residency provides four artists the chance to create a body of work with the undivided attention of a team of printers. No previous experience in printmaking is necessary, and the printers embrace the technical breakthroughs that often take place when artists are new to printmaking. O’Neil is taking a “blue sabbatical” in the year 2023 that is intended to help her reset. This common focus of the larger project and personal intention should lead to interesting results during her Tamarind residency and something that is sure to be addressed during her virtual talk in the workshop on Dec. 15.

Tamarind Institute, a division of the College of Fine Arts at The University of New Mexico, is a workshop, a gallery, and a center for the art of lithography. Tamarind faculty and staff conduct research, train collaborative printers, and produce and publish original artworks with emerging and established artists from a plethora of disciplines. Tamarind Institute’s lithography process represents the alchemy of art, craft, material, and synergy resulting in an edition of hand-pulled impressions.