For a little more than a year, Matthew Shlian has collaborated with Tamarind as the workshop’s first recipient of the Frederick Hammersley Artist Residency. Building on his previous collaboration with Tamarind in 2016, this extended residency created an opportunity for further experimentation with Tamarind printers, led by Master Printer Valpuri Remling. To date, Shlian has collaborated with six Tamarind printers as they rotated through the training program, each project yielding another layer of inquiry and technical discovery.
Shlian’s ever expanding work as a paper engineer and his own collaborations with scientists at the University of Michigan prompted Tamarind to delve in to the vast topic of the interactions of art and science. The parallels between scientific collaborations and the collaborations we facilitate in the Tamarind workshop between artist and printer provide the basis for a larger discussion around the shared creative language that emerges through interdisciplinary partnerships. With this thinking, Tamarind invited writer Lawrence Weschler to curate one of his famed Wonder Cabinet programs in Albuquerque, an unconventional gathering of artists, scientists, theorists, architects, engineers, and ideators of all kinds.
The Frederick Hammersley Artist Residency, established in 2017, creates an opportunity to consider Hammersley’s legacy as a painter and printmaker, as well as his influence as a conceptual thinker. Many parallels exist between these two intergenerational artists, Hammersley and Shlian. Both artists incorporate meticulous geometric forms and mathematical precision, utilizing digital tools of their time to realize complex iterative patterns. The process deployed by each is also similar: Hammersley went through a phase of painting and then cutting up his canvases to reassemble the pieces into new compositions he called “cut-ups”; and Shlian too develops an overall pattern digitally and then creates the work by cutting apart the plotted forms, folding and reassembling the work by hand. Furthermore, the computer drawings that Hammersley produced in the late 1960s in Albuquerque with an IBM computer are directly analogous to the digital tools that Shlian employs to develop his dimensional paper sculptures, moving the pattern from two dimensions to three. Both artists worked at Tamarind, and reveal the instincts of a printmaker— building their work through layers, experimenting with planar surfaces, and welcoming the ways in which the process can inform and expand the work. In both artists there is a playful sense of wonder in how simple geometries can build into something much more complex.
The work Shlian produced during this extended collaboration will be shown at Tamarind this spring as part of the Wonder Cabinet event. Two-fold: A Pairing of Frederick Hammersley + Matthew Shlian presents Shlian’s recent work alongside a selection of Hammersley’s computer drawings from 1969-1970 and Tamarind prints from 1973-1991.
Matthew Shlian and Team Tamarind at Tamarind Institute, 2017. Video courtesy Matthew Shlian.