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Special Spotlight Insert

Devon studies Spanish to boost Tamarind outreach

By Megan Bartolucci

Marjorie DevonAs director of the Tamarind Institute, Marjorie Devon provides a common ground and a common language to people around the world: art.

In 1970, Devon moved from San Francisco to Albuquerque for what she thought would be no longer than a year. It was good fortune, she said, that led her to a position working with Clinton Adams, then the director of Tamarind, and one year turned into 33.

“I’m still here and I’m loving it,” she said.

During her time at Tamarind Devon has worn many hats, including those of a teacher and publications manager. Now as director, she oversees all Tamarind’s programs, often writing grants to secure funding. The most rewarding and unique parts of her job, she believes, are the special projects she organizes and implements.

“I’m studying Spanish to make my trips to South America easier,” she said, explaining that several of the projects require her to travel to foreign countries.

One such project involved hosting an artist from each of the six former Yugoslav republics for a lithography workshop held at Tamarind. In order to select the artists, Devon made trips to Kosovo and Macedonia.

The potential for conflict on all sides was high, but she said, “(The artists) were able to set aside ethnic and political perspectives and work together. Art gave them a neutral space.”

Now she travels once again, accompanying “Multiple Expressions,” an exhibit featuring Native American art created at Tamarind between 1970 and 2000. Its first stop is Cochabamba, Bolivia, where her studies will help her to explain the project in Spanish.

When she isn’t traveling abroad for special projects, she is organizing them locally, supporting workshops in public high schools, and sponsoring indigenous Sand People from Botswana, Africa, to collaborate with the Pueblo artists of New Mexico.

“Thirty-three years in the same place is a long time for a person who loves change,” she said. “But every day I feel so fortunate to have this job – it is always challenging and interesting and exciting.”

And though her single year commitment to Albuquerque is now only a memory, Devon said she would not trade her decades here for anything.

Somewhere between the landscape and the climate, she said, “There is just an ease about living here.”

Another 33 years from now, Devon said her only wish is to be living a happy and productive life. “I feel so fortunate to have had so many opportunities - I love life.”

Call the Tamarind Institute at 277-3901 or visit Tamarind’s Web site at http://www.unm.edu/~tamarind.