Books On Books Collection – Jaz Graf

Trophic Avulsions (2016)

Trophic Avulsions (2016)
Jaz Graf
Cyanotype accordion book with thread drawing, paper lithography and laser engraving on wood. Closed: H6 x W8.5 x D1.0 inches; Open: W80 inches. Unique. Acquired from the artist, 14 March 2018. Photos: Books On Books Collection.


Graf has used satellite photos of various river deltas around the world to create the cyanotype prints in this work. The patterns from which are exposed come from paper litho prints made on fabric. The result is a blurring, softening yet “nearing” of the otherwise sharp, scientific and remote images normally viewed on digital screens or photographic paper. As Graf points out in her description, the word trophic “relates to an ecological concept of the trophic cascade, in which one action leads to another in an ecosystem, implying ideas of interconnectivity.”  

That interconnectivity and the impact we have on “the separation of land from one area and its attachment to another”, which is what avulsion means, is implied by the streams of thread meandering across and off the panels of the accordion form from beginning to end. Even though the panels fold to fit within their laser-engraved birch panels, they vary in width, which breaks up the expected regularity of the accordion when it is extended. The engravings show a delta emptying into a desert and are mounted on wood blocks covered in muslin bearing the printed delta image made with paper lithography. 

Thread drawing is a technique common to several outstanding works of book art: Jody Alexander’s Felix’s Notebook (2008), Marion Bataille’s Vues/Lues (2018), Dianna Frid’s Reversal (2009), Candace Hicks’ Composition (2009~), Helen Hiebert‘s Nebulae (2017), Shellie Holden’s Maps (2006), Lisa Kokin’s Partial History of Jewish Life in Modern Times (1997), Ines Seidel’s Changed Constitution (2015) and Mireille Vautier‘s Agenda (2001) among others. Graf’s handling of the technique and its combination with cyanotype printing and lithography in the treatment of her theme, though, make it distinctive and original.

The environmental focus of Trophic Avulsions places it in a well-loved tradition in book art. Other works by Graf, such as Mother Water (2018) below, would be comfortably at home in an exhibition with

Biography (2010) by Sarah Bryant, who creatively connects the human body’s elements with those of the periodic table to bear witness to our impact on the environment and vice versa;

the Ice Books series (2007-17) by Basia Irland, who selects local seeds and embeds them as “text” in a block of frozen river water, carved into the shape of a book to be released into the local river where it melts, releasing the seeds;

the Whorl series (2013- ongoing) by Jacqueline Rush Lee, who returns books to their botanical origins by sculpting books and inserting them into the cavity of a tree to allow time, changing weather conditions and insect activity to rewrite them into the shape of a whorl in a tree hollow;

Batterers (1996) by Denise Levertov, Kathryn Lipke and Claire Van Vliet, who combine Levertov’s powerful poem extending a metaphor of abuse to the earth with Lipke’s clay paperwork set into a wooden tray as the base of this sculptural book, whose pages Van Vliet makes unfold into a fiery landscape; or

Silent Spring Revisited (2016) by Chris Ruston, who uses her frequent visits to natural history museums to inspire works that blend science and art that highlight extinction and the interdependence of humans and nature.

If such an exhibition — a twentieth anniversary of Betty Bright’s 1992 “Completing the Circle: Artists’ Books on the Environment”? — were organized, Trophic Avulsions would be available to loan!

Mother Water (2018)
Laser-etched acrylic, cyanotype, porcelain
Dimensions variable (15 panels – each 14”x11”)
The river featured is Thailand’s Chao Praya. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

Bookmarking Book Art — Jody Alexander

EXPOSEDSPINES003
Exposed Spines © Jody Alexander

As with most book art (and almost all sculpture), Jody Alexander’s works celebrate the haptic so warmly that I wonder how an owner or viewer resists handling them.  And celebrating the book arts (Alexander makes her own paper in the Eastern style), surely these bookworks on display should be touched —like the books on the shelves of public libraries — until they take on the wear and patina of fine books.  Imagine the installation — call it “Touch This” — and what viewers would see and feel decades from now. A visit to her studio WishiWashi might come closest to this imagined event.

Alexander teaches at the San Francisco Center for the Book and blogs at Jalex Books Blog .  As of this posting (12 May 2013), however, the most recent entry for information on exhibits, classes and new artwork is 5 July 2012.

Update:

Erin Fletcher at Flash of the Hand has tracked down Jody Alexander for an interview (2 August 2013).

While reading the interview, you will begin to understand the depth of Jody’s commitment to her materials and characters. This exclusive connection is the cause for such a well-rounded body of work. Her dedication to teaching is just as exceptional, offering her skills to several venues both online and in person. Read the interview after the jump and come back each Monday during the month of August for more posts on Jody Alexander.

August // Book Artist of the Month: Jody Alexander

kqdv8gs2urrnhnk92ltowtl72ejkfbmt4t8yenimkbvvk0ktmf0xjctabnaljim91

The photo above comes from Alexander’s series SedimentalsThis series, which “takes the form of tea staining cotton to replicate the colors of aged and browned bookspines and swaddling or layering them to create a safe haven for these beautiful objects, enshrining them”, is an interesting instance of book art to which Garrett Stewart’s Bookwork: Medium to Object to Concept to Art applies. Check out Alexander’s site, read Stewart’s book and see if you agree.

MUSUBU Books and Art: Tokyo  California  Urawa Abstracts. Exhibition 12-24 September 2017 in Saitama, Japan; 17 April – 19 May 2018 in San Francisco, US. Co-organized with the Tokyo Bookbinding Club.

Online workshops with Jody Alexander. Accessed 19 September 2018.