Museum to exhibit lithographs from top American artists and printers of last 50 years

Lithograph from 'Tamarind Touchstones' exhibition at Jule Collins Smith MuseumAUBURN UNIVERSITY – The lithography exhibition “Tamarind Touchstones: Fabulous at 50 – Celebrating Excellence in Fine Art Lithography” will open Saturday, May 18, at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University.

The exhibition features 61 prints from many of the most significant American artists and printers of the last 50 years, including Josef Albers, Willie Cole, Roy De Forest, Richard Diebenkorn and Kiki Smith.

The museum has invited the director of Tamarind Institute, Marjorie Devon, to deliver her lecture “Pressing Ideas: Mastering the Art of Collaboration at Tamarind” on Friday, May 30, at 6 p.m. in the Martin-Perricone Auditorium. The event is for student and museum members with extended gallery hours and a reception to follow.

Dennis Harper, the museum’s curator for collections and exhibitions, said for the exhibition to come to Auburn is very relevant to the university’s artistic legacy because of Auburn’s long and rich tradition of printmaking. He said Maltby Sykes, whose career with the art department at Auburn University spanned more than three decades until his retirement in 1979, is an important part of that tradition.

“Maltby Sykes, in a way, is the father of the program, but many fine works have come out of the faculty and student body here over the years,” Harper said.

He noted that prints are also a significant part of the museum’s permanent collection.

Describing the exhibition, Harper said, “The exhibition demonstrates not only the wide technical possibilities available through lithography, but it also illustrates the changing face of contemporary art over the last half-century.”

Lithograph from 'Tamarind Touchstones' exhibition at Jule Collins Smith MuseumThe Tamarind Institute is a center for research, education and creativity in fine art lithography with the College of Fine Arts at the University of New Mexico.

“Hundreds of Tamarind-trained printers have established workshops around the world, and lithography plays an important role in many contemporary artists’ processes,” Devon said. “The popularity of digital media has both augmented and threatened hand processes, but many artists still long for ‘the touch of the hand’ that the sensuous process of lithography offers.”

Devon said that she hoped that visitors to this exhibition would see the difference between an original print and a photographic reproduction of a pre-existing image.

“All of the images in Tamarind Touchstones were created by the artists specifically for this medium,” she said. “An artist chooses a medium, whether painting, sculpture, or any of the various print media, based on its inherent vocabulary of marks.”

With the collaborative nature of lithographic printing, she felt as though working with another professional gives artists an advantage. “Learning a new ‘language’ is often creative fodder for artists.”

To become a museum member and attend the May 30 opening, go to see levels and benefits. Memberships for Auburn University students are free, and membership levels start at $45 for individuals. Admission to the exhibition is free courtesy of the museum’s business partners.

(Contributed by Charlotte Hendrix.)

Charlotte Hendrix, Jule Collins Smith Museum (334) 844-7075 (, or Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (