As one of the simplest forms of human technology, it could be argued that paper has had the most impact on the proliferation and preservation of knowledge worldwide.

When I work with paper as a medium and/or as a support, some of the questions that provoke my research are:

How do paper and books operate within social, cultural and
symbolic forms of capital?

How do paper and books contribute to the construction of
national identity and civil society? 

This history of paper, its many forms, uses and methods of papermaking have varied remarkably across cultures and over time. As an artist of Thai, Swiss and American heritage, I consider Eastern and Western traditions in my papermaking practice. The translation of ancient traditions and the recreation of their values, are essential to their continuity. 

In recent weeks, I have been making sheets of paper with a combination of abaca and flax fibers. The abaca plant is part of the banana family, its fiber is harvested from the leaf stems. Abaca is native to Asia, but can grow in humid regions. The flax plant grows in cooler climes and it is the bast, or inner bark, of the plant that is harvested for papermaking.

Both of these fibers have been mechanically macerated, breaking it down into a pulp. The pulp is mixed with water, poured onto a screen, and pulled away as a sheet of paper when dried. The resulting sheets are strong, somewhat translucent, and they make a crisp sound when crinkled. 


jaz graf



A “rondelle” made from unbeaten Thai Kozo fiber, held up to the window of cloudy skies.

Thanks to Laos Fois Photography for assistance in documenting the process.

Gallery Aferro Studio Residency

IMG_1791Having a studio space to see art works side by side, problem-solve, explore new techniques, meet with curators, and have conversations with the general public are all important aspects of my art practice. This week I am preparing for “Why We Do What We Do,” an exhibition which explores artistic motivations, curated by Adrienne E. Wheeler. The show is dedicated to the memory of Gladys Barker Grauer, social activist, artist, and beloved local legend.

Location: Box Gallery in Newark, NJ is part of Paul Robeson Galleries, Express Newark. The exhibit is on view from February 20 – June 27, 2020 and is presented in conjunction with Women in Media-Newark Film Festival.

Thanks to Laos Fois Photography for assistance in documenting the process.

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Maureen Cummins, from AlieNation / SepaRation.




On November 8, 2019, the twenty-fifth annual New Jersey Book Arts Symposium will feature presentations by: Ioulia Akhmadeeva, a Russian-Mexican visual artist, teacher and researcher; Maureen Cummins, founder of the Inanna Press, a recipient of the 2009 Pollock-Krasner Award, and a book artist who has long been engaged with found printed matter; Patricia Dahlman, a Cincinnati-born artist, recipient of New Jersey Printmaking Fellowship from the Brodsky Center for Innovative Print and Paper, and part of the Dana Women Artists Series; Helen Donis-Keller, Michael E. Moody Professor and Professor of Biology and Art at Olin College of Engineering currently researching the genomic structure and function of viruses of soil bacteria, one of the driving forces behind her artists’ books; Jaz Graf, an artist who works with paper and print, incorporating printmaking techniques, digital imaging and experimental bookbinding methods, as well as manipulating plant fibers, textiles and wire; Suzie Tuchman, a recent graduate of the Montclair State University MFA program, who works in sculpture, printmaking. papermaking and book arts; and Maria Veronica San Martin, a Chilean-born, New York-based artist working in printmaking, artist books, installations, sculpture, and performance art.

The lunchtime artists reading seminar, arranged by printmaker, artist and poet MaryAnn L. Miller (Cures for Hysteria), will include Kim Bridgford, the director of Poetry by the Sea: A Global Conference, and editor of Mezzo Cammin, an Online journal of formalist poetry women, and author of ten books of poetry; and Jo Yarrington, who creates site-specific exhibitions, and collaborative projects using varied combinations of materials.

During the continental breakfast, artists Shellie Jacobson and Catherine LeCleire will provide a workshop and a demo. Catherine will demo metal leafing, and Catherine LeCleire will lead a workshop in creating accordion books with integrated pockets out of a single sheet of paper. As always, all attendees are invited to attend. Materials will be provided.

Asha Ganpat will return as Artist-in-Residence; a small exhibition of works by symposium artists will be curated by NJBAS Curator, Amanda J. Thackray; Karen Guancione, NJBAS Artistic Director, will introduce the artists and serve as symposium moderator, Judith K. Brodsky will be the symposium Respondent; Anna Pinto, the NJBAS Scribe, will produce beautiful one-of-a-kind calligraphic nametags for all attendees. As usual, the day will conclude with a book artists’ jam, at which all attendees can share their work.

Onsite registration for What Books Do Better will begin at 8:00 a.m., workshops will run from 8:45-10:00. The program will run until 4:00, with an hour and a half for lunch. It will be held on the fourth floor of the Alexander Library, 169 College Avenue, New Brunswick, N.J. Free parking is available, if you fill out this form.

To register in advance: NJ Book Arts Symposium

Hope to see you there!!!

A Place to Rest One’s Palms by Jaz Graf.

A Place to Rest One’s Palms, 2019

Cyanotype on handmade paper from Thai Kozo (mulberry), Mitsumata, Philippine Gampi, Soapnut natural dye, Handmade rope and covers from Thai Kozo

Dimensions variable (can be open or closed as a folded book) when open 88 in. x 42 in. x 1.5 in.

The sewn structure is based on the binding of ancient palm leaf manuscripts. Patterns of my ancestor’s hand woven silk textile depict a traditional lotus motif with architectural stupas. The visual vocabulary of symbols are spacial interpretations, conjugating the actual experience of the land.

If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow: and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are.

“Interbeing” is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix “inter” with the verb “to be”, we have a new verb, inter-be. Without a cloud, we cannot have paper, so we can say that the cloud and the sheet of paper inter-are.

If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. If the sunshine is not there, the forest cannot grow. In fact nothing can grow. Even we cannot grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper. The paper and the sunshine inter-are. And if we continue to look we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper. And we see the wheat. We know that the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. And the logger’s father and mother are in it too. When we look in this way we see that without all of these things, this sheet of paper cannot exist.

— Thich Nhat Hanh

(images: handmade washi paper made of thai kozo, 3 and 4 color stone lithograph prints inspired by washi – made by Jaz Graf)


Signatures, Version II, porcelain, handmade paper, thread by Jaz Graf

In Signatures, Version II, no text is present, there are no discernible pictures. It is the pure form and gesture of the earthen material to be read, which echo signs of human touch, providing textural information, and having a memory of its own. Each signature has unique punctures along its spine, traces of its disembodiment. The viewers’ interaction with the book is challenged.

Porcelain exteriors, stitched with handmade washi paper made from Thai kozo in the traditional nagashizuki style. I studied this technique under the instruction of Timothy Barrett, a leader in the field.

Jaz Graf

Mother Water, 2018

Laser-etched acrylic, cyanotype, porcelain

Dimensions variable (15 panels – each 14”x11”)

This work is from my recent exhibition, of origins and essence
@ The University of Notre Dame. The river featured is Thailand’s Chao Praya.