Experiments on Stone: Four Women Artists from the Tamarind Lithography Workshop

Thursday, Jan 21, 2021 - 9:15 am
ONLINE EXHIBITION FEATURES PRINTS BY FOUR FEMALE ARTISTS

San Diego, CA – The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) is pleased to present Experiments on Stone: Four Women Artists from the Tamarind Lithography Workshop, continuing the Museum’s online exhibitions and programming. Drawn from the Museum’s collection, the exhibition explores the prints produced by Anni Albers, Ruth Asawa, Gego, and Louise Nevelson at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop, Los Angeles during the 1960s. The exhibition goes live at MCASD.digital on Monday, February 8.

Experiments on Stone explores the four artists’ distinct inquiries into printmaking, underscoring the importance of this experimental time in each of their careers. Recognizing that these artists worked in media outside of printmaking for a majority of their careers, this exhibition places their lithographs in direct dialogue with examples of their sculptural and textile work. In so doing, Experiments on Stone demonstrates how fruitful the fellowship at Tamarind proved. In each of their respective practices, the artists used lithography to work through three dimensional concerns and ideas on a two-dimensional surface.

“The exhibition unearths this important and lesser-studied part of each artist’s body of work,” explained exhibition curator Alana Hernandez. “Some have natural affinities with each other, yet the exhibition shows how dynamic lithography can be. Each artist experimented and created prints utilizing different methods, emphasizing printmaking as a critical medium of experimentation.”

Founded by artist June Wayne in 1960, Tamarind was at the forefront of imagining a print renaissance in the United States during the 1960s, fueled primarily by collaboration and innovation, and emphasizing professionalization and training. The workshop helped revive the medium of lithography, where the technique had dwindled just after mid-century due to economic pressures and the lack of master printers and print shops. Inviting painters and sculptors who might have never made prints before, Wayne anticipated that each invited artist could produce original, high-quality lithographs in collaboration with professional and master printers. Although the four artists did not overlap with one another during their residencies, the workshop itself serves as a connective thread through their varied bodies of work.

Under the directorship of Wayne, several women artists—including Albers, Asawa, Gego, and Nevelson—were given the space to create and further the medium of lithography with unprecedented access to studio space and printers. Experiments on Stone is presented in partnership with the Feminist Art Coalition, focusing on the contributions of four women artists who generated substantial bodies of work in collaboration with the Tamarind Lithography Workshop.

“Nevelson and Gego have interests in architectural forms and building. While Albers and Asawa have interests in weaving. Through our partnership with the Feminist Art Coalition, we continue our commitment to featuring female artists of note throughout the generations,” added Hernandez.

Anni Albers (1899–1994)

Recognized for her inventive use of color and geometric patterning in weavings and textiles, Anni Albers turned exclusively to printmaking in the late 1960s, discarding the last of her looms in 1968. It was at Tamarind, with the encouragement of artist and director of the workshop June Wayne, that Albers began creating lithographs, studying the intricacies of lines and threads in a two-dimensional format. On paper, Albers found that she could break free from the rigid framework of the loom, effectively setting—as she would say—the thread free.

Ruth Asawa (1926–2013)

Ruth Asawa is known primarily for her woven wire sculptures that seem to defy conventional notions of materiality and form. Yet Asawa’s three-dimensional wire constructions chiefly originated in two-dimensions, at the drafting table. Asawa was trained at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where she focused on design and drawing under Josef Albers (1888– 1976). It was Albers who recommended Asawa for a fellowship at Tamarind, where she was able to experiment more concretely on a two-dimensional plane.

Gego (1912–1994)

Gego (born Gertrude Goldschmidt) is widely regarded as a leading figure of 1960s and 1970s abstraction in Venezuela, where she is recognized for her geometric and kinetic sculptures and installations. Trained in architecture and engineering, Gego worked consistently with printmaking in both Venezuela and in the United States, completing numerous etchings, lithographs, and illustrated books throughout her career. A chief concern of Gego’s was the notion of the line and its instability. During her time at Tamarind, first in 1963 and then again in 1966, she experimented with many of the forms and concepts that would reemerge in her later sculptural practice.

Louise Nevelson (1899–1988)
Louise Nevelson’s work is characterized by dreamlike constructions that evoke dramatic cityscapes, such as that of New York City, where she lived and worked most of her life. Nevelson sought to transform discarded materials, provoking a conversation between the built and natural world. Much of her work—sculptural and otherwise—is monochromatic, a strategy that enabled her to explore the play of light across surfaces. This interest in the effects of light and shadow, as well as her embrace of found materials, is exemplified in her lithographs from Tamarind.

Programming:
As part of the exhibition, MCASD continues its commitment to engaging audiences through virtual programming by presenting four Charlas, or chats, with exhibition curator Alana Hernandez. Presented on the second Thursday of the month via Instagram Live, the conversations will feature four contemporary artists who have a background in printmaking and works on paper. The participants span geographic locations in and outside of the United States. The Charlas series gives the opportunity for viewers to hear more about an artist’s practice through informal conversations. “This strong and diverse group emphasizes the Museum’s commitment to U.S. Latinx and artists in Latin America while also providing an opportunity to make connections between artists over time and across generations.” added Hernandez.

Charlas Schedule:
María Verónica San Martín, Thursday, February 11 at 11:00 AM PST
Glendalys Medina, Thursday, March 11 at 11:00 AM PST
Nicola López, Thursday, April 8 at 11:00 AM PST
Felipe Baeza, Thursday, May 13 at 11:00 AM PST

Experiments on Stone: Four Women Artists from the Tamarind Lithography Workshop is organized by MCASD Assistant Curator Alana Hernandez and made possible by gifts to the annual operating fund. Institutional support of MCASD is provided by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and the County of San Diego Community Enhancement Fund.

This exhibition is part of the Feminist Art Coalition, a national platform for art projects that seek to generate cultural awareness of feminist thought, experience, and action. Working collectively, art museums and nonprofit institutions from across the United States will present concurrent events beginning in the fall of 2020.

About MCASD

Founded in 1941, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) is the preeminent contemporary visual arts institution in San Diego County. The Museum's collection includes more than 4,700 works of art created since 1950. In addition to presenting exhibitions by international contemporary artists, the Museum serves thousands of children and adults annually at its varied education programs, and offers a rich program of film, performance, and lectures. MCASD is a private, nonprofit organization, with 501c3 tax-exempt status; it is supported by generous contributions and grants from MCASD Members and other individuals, corporations, foundations, and government agencies. Kathryn Kanjo is The David C. Copley Director and CEO at MCASD. Institutional support for MCASD is provided by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.