The University of New Mexico's Tamarind Institute is releasing 10 monotypes that emerged from alumna Emmi Whitehorse’s 2022 residency, her ninth since 1994.
Lustrous shades of color evolve and gently drift across the paper. The subtle shifts of light are layered with gestural marks and meditative organic forms. After the printing process was complete Whitehorse took the monotypes back to her studio, adding collage elements such as mica and hand-drawn features.
“My work is about and has always been about land, about being aware of our surroundings and appreciating the beauty of nature. I am concerned that we are no longer aware of those. The calm and beauty that is in my work I hope serves as a reminder of what is underfoot, of the exchange we make with nature. Light, space and color are the axis around which my work evolves. The act of making art must stay true to a harmonious balance of beauty, nature, humanity, and the whole universe. This is in accordance with Navajo philosophy,” Whitehorse explained.
Born in Crownpoint, N.M., in 1957, Whitehorse grew up in a Navajo (Diné or Naabeehó) family living in the realm of Chaco Canyon. Whitehorse’s rearing was founded in traditional Navajo living and philosophy, along with a deep connection to the changing of seasons and the land of her ancestors. In the winter her family lived indoors, while during warmer seasons they would live outside.
While in graduate school at UNM, Whitehorse, who got her degree in printmaking, developed her painting technique through the encouragement of Harmony Hammond, another Tamarind artist. She started painting flat on a tabletop, thus transferring the childhood experience of drawing in sand and later drawing on limestone, and taking to it “like a duck to water.”
“It just takes one teacher somewhere down the line to open your mind,” said Whitehorse. During this time, she joined the Grey Canyon Group, an association of Native American artists founded by another Tamarind artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith. The group challenged the colonialist paradigm of what Native American art was.
Whitehorse’s work is held in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Ark.; Denver Art Museum, Colo.; Eiteljorg Museum, Indianapolis, Ind.; Heard Museum, Phoenix, Ariz.; Montclair Art Museum, N.J.; Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, N.M.; Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.; Tucson Museum of Art, Ariz.; Westfälisches Museum, Münster, Germany; The Wheelwright Museum, Santa Fe, N.M.; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, N.Y., among many others.
Tamarind Institute, a division of UNM's College of Fine Arts, 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 between artist and printer, resulting in exquisite hand-pulled impressions.