Linn Meyers is a multidisciplinary artist living in Washington D.C., but at the beginning of March she will begin a brief tenure in Albuquerque as the artist in residence at the Tamarind Institute. Meyers has visited the Institute four times previously. On March 11, she will begin work on collaborative pieces with current master printer Valpuri Remling. Meyers spoke to us from the streets of D.C., on a walk to a nearby museum. “I think I can walk and think at the same time,” she mused before eloquently elaborating on her work and how at times the Tamarind has influenced it.
Alibi: What are you working on lately?
Meyers: I'm working on some paintings, and the plans for a site-specific project that will be in Maine in the fall. … It used to be that I would have described my primary focus as drawing and painting and the other work, printmaking and site specific work were secondary to that. Now, I characterize it differently. The site-specific work is now the larger piece of what I do. … In between those projects I'm in the studio painting and drawing. And also giving some thought to the ways in which I can take my current interests and areas of inquiry with me to Tamarind.
How has being at the Tamarind impacted your work?
Printmaking is really important to the other work I do, because it is always collaborative. Because of that, I have insights I wouldn't have otherwise. My work in the studio is generally not so collaborative. That collaborative element that happens in the printshop is really important, and new findings emerge through that process. I then bring that back to my studio with me. That plays out in my paintings and drawings and even the site-specific projects. My experiences at the Tamarind have all had really valuable impact on the other work that I do. … In collaboration I explore territory I wouldn't have had the opportunity to explore otherwise.
How did you connect with this medium in the first place?
I started out as a printmaker in college, … and I studied lithography in high school. I loved it so much that I applied to college as a printmaker. … [After that] I discovered that despite how much I loved the practice and loved the physicality of it, I had sudden clarity that it wasn't going to be my life's work. I think it had to do with the fact that in order to be a really good printmaker, you have to be really good at following instructions and I'm a ruler-breaker by nature. I think [one] key to great printmaking is to know which rules to break and which rules not to break. … What's great about working at Tamarind is that I still get to play, and they are the ones that are in charge of the list of rules. I don't have to fumble around with that stuff. They have such knowledge of what the medium has to offer that I don't have.
Does that eliminate some fear of failure?
When you're making an image that's going to be printed, whether on a stone or a plate … you have the goal of producing an image that will be reproducible. … You could make a whole image on a stone that's lovely and then you try to print it and it totally disappears—that happened the last summer I was at Tamarind. I spent 15 hours working on this gorgeous drawing on a stone, and then they processed it and the whole thing disappeared. … In an interesting way, it relates nicely to the site-specific work I do. The work is impermanent. I put in a ton of hours and energy and heart making these impermanent large works. I love that about them. It's almost a practice what you preach thing. If I make things that disappear, I have to be okay with working on a stone that sometimes just doesn't work out. It's okay because you're learning along the way.
And you get good practice at letting go. Is there anything about Albuquerque that keeps you coming back?
I really think it’s valuable for any of us to get out of our regular environs. To make creative work outside of what we're used to, outside of our homes and studios and the people we're used to being surrounded by. I think surprises happen then.
You can catch Meyers at her free artist talk, at the Tamarind Institute (2500 Central Ave. SE) on Thursday, March 22, at 5:30pm.