The following was written by Emily Diehl, a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and friend of WPG Emerging Printmaker Heather McMordie. This article is about her time at Tamarind Institute’s printer-in-training program, which you can find out more about here. See the accompanying pictures in the current issue of our newsletter.
The first semester we have a series of set projects, the ‘P Projects’ (named after ‘Printer Training Program’), incorporating a variety of lessons,techniques, and skills that build on one another leading to the second semester when we collaborate with masters students from the University of New Mexico to produce prints of their vision. All our training leads us towards collaboration with artists who have no formal training in printmaking, showing them what is possible through the medium of lithography, then processing and printing a consistent edition.
The ‘P projects’ have existed relatively unchanged since my teacher, Rodney Hamond, was in the Printer Training Program himself. Aspects of these projects are partly designed for you to fail, to get yourself into trouble and require you to problem solve, so that you learn how to fix issues when things suddenly go wrong. They also provide us with experience in as many different materials and situations as possible, simulating the idea that you want to know how to handle anything your artist might decide to use to produce a print. In addition to working on technique and processing, we also take turns working on the professional side of the Tamarind shop, ‘sponging’ for Bill Lagattuta, the master printer, or Kellie Hames, the senior printer. Sponging for the professionals is very important, for you learn so much from watching them work in a shop where things must not only be done correctly, but quickly.
The program is intense and demanding. I’m one of eight students who have all committed their time to be consumed by lithography for the next year. But we couldn’t have a better guide through this litho madness than Rodney, who is incredibly funny, warm, and knowledgeable, and who loves to challenge us, reminding us to ‘see what you can get away with’ while still pulling off the desired result. Everyone comes to Tamarind with a lot of experience and with something new to teach the others, but we all start fresh at the beginning of the program, temporarily forgetting everything we have previously learned, for we have all come here to learn the Tamarind method. For as much work as this program is, it is just as rewarding, for I am only in the first semester of the program and already know that I am a far better printer for being here.