Hayal Pozanti at the Tamarind Institute
The Tamarind Institute was founded in 1960 by June Wayne with the intent of revitalizing and elevating the status of lithography in the U.S.; It moved to Albuquerque in 1970 where it became affiliated with the University of New Mexico. With a strong focus on research, education, collaborative exchange and experimentation, Tamarind has undeniably changed the course of lithography through its 54 years of operation.
Fresh off a couple of high-profile exhibitions at Susan Vielmetter in Los Angeles and DUVE Berlin, New York-based painter Hayal Pozanti made a brief stop in Albuquerque in late-January for a week-long printmaking residency at the Tamarind Institute. Her efforts resulted in several monotypes and two lithographs that will be editioned later this spring. During her visit, we had the opportunity to talk about her experience at Tamarind as her first foray into lithography. – Claude Smith, Albuquerque/Santa Fe Contributor
Claude Smith: How did you get connected with the Tamarind Institute? Had you heard of Tamarind prior to your residency?
Hayal Pozanti: I received an e-mail from Marjorie Lynn Devon asking me if I would like to make prints at Tamarind. This was the first time I’d heard of Tamarind, unfortunately.
CS: Was this your first experience with printmaking? As an artist that works fairly exclusively as a painter, had you ever envisioned yourself making lithographs?
HP: I’ve always been interested and invested in printmaking because my practice involves using computers. In fact, before painting became a central component of my practice, I was avidly experimenting with digital printing as a means of bringing the screen to life. Among analog printing techniques, I'd only had experience with silkscreen printing. Tamarind was my introduction to monotypes and lithographs. To be honest, I hadn't given much thought to analog printing until I came to Tamarind and had my first hands on experience. To my surprise and delight, analog printing turned out to be a process that felt much more similar to painting or drawing than printing in the way we understand as digital natives. In lithography, one creates as one is printing and also manipulating the outcome through the process of printing. This is incomparable to pressing a button and waiting for the result to come out of a printer.
CS: What sorts of challenges did this residency present you with?
HP: I am used to working and reworking paint in order to generate the final composition. My paintings are usually heavily laden with layers of paint so that I can find that perfect color and shape combination. In printing, there isn't the possibility of reworking. You have to plan meticulously, both in terms of color and line quality. Once the print is printed, reworking is redundant. This was the one challenge that took some time to fully grasp and work around.
CS: Did you have the opportunity to browse some of Tamarind’s collection? Any favorite pieces from the archives? Was there anything that you were surprised to find out about its history?
HP: Yes, I did and there are real gems to be found! My favorites works were by Ken Price.
CS: You made some monotypes and a couple of editions of lithographs. Did you have a preference of the two processes?
HP: I enjoyed collaborating with master printers for the lithographs. I am used to working alone most of the time, so it was a refreshing experience to interact, exchange ideas and get feedback from other people who were helping me in realizing my ideas.
CS: In terms of experimentation, do you think the overall experience was generative with respect to giving you new ideas or approaches to further contemplate in your studio practice?
HP: Absolutely! I would like to find ways of bringing the techniques into my paintings. Hopefully my next visit to Tamarind will be focused on making this possibility a reality.
CS: You mentioned in a past interview with Hunter Braithwaite that regarding your painting practice you were interested in “the idea of slowness.” Being that lithography is a very process-oriented practice, were you forced to work at a different pace and consider your approach more so than you would have to if you were painting?
HP: I would say the same amount of concentrated effort and time has to be put into both. At least in terms of my practice. I usually plan out my paintings with sketches much like the way planning has to be made for a print. It is just a matter of difference in technique and practice. While painting is simply done with brushes and paint, lithography requires the use of heavy machinery and rolling inks.
CS: In Passwords, your most recent exhibition at DUVE in Berlin, you showed work that was comprised entirely of your own invented language–glyphs, abstracted shapes and characters–all quite painterly and formal. Would you say that the work at Tamarind builds on those concepts or offers a departure?
HP: It is very much a continuation of the same concepts. Within the same framework of ideas, my work has been progressing to a more three dimensional and perspectival compositional understanding, so the work at Tamarind reflects that.
CS: Talk a little about the collaborative process between yourself and Tamarind Master Printer, Bill Lagattuta. Aside from the actual printing, what kind of role did he play in influencing your approach?
HP: Prior to printing, we sat down to discuss the process itself, including various possibilities in terms of papers and tools and most importantly printing suggestions that had crossed his mind after studying my paintings. His expertise in printing and years of experience with artists of varying interests brought possibilities to the table that would not have crossed my mind otherwise. He was also a delight to work with as a person and my experience at Tamarind would not have been the same without him.
CS: When can we expect your prints to be released?
HP: I believe in six months latest.
CS: Any plans to come back?
HP: I would love to come back! We have been talking about possibilities.
Hayal Pozanti is a native of Istanbul who received her MFA from Yale University in 2011. Her practice encompasses painting, sculpture, collage as well as digital animation. Through these varied platforms, she explores questions of technology and language systems, as well as the possibilities of space mapped out by the body and screen. Hayal Pozanti has exhibited at Jessica Silverman Gallery in San Francisco, Duve, Berlin and at Brand New Gallery in Milan, Italy. She currently lives and works in New York, New York.
Claude Smith is an arts administrator and educator living and working in Albuquerque, NM.