Member Highlight

Liz Marraffino


After a moderately successful career as a poet, I came late to the visual arts: first painting and drawing, a long sojourn as a ceramic artist, and then when the ceramic studio I worked in closed, with a little help from the late Joseph Osina one of the original members of Manhattan Graphics Center, I found Vijay Kumar. After two or three monotype workshops with Joseph, he encouraged me to take Vijay’s etching class. That was many years ago and I have been in love with printmaking ever since. Though I am first and foremost a painter, lack of studio space has led me to work more with various print making processes here among the wonderful teaching artists at MCG. Besides etching, I have studied paper lithography with David Thomas, collagraph with Robin Dintiman, chine colle and gluing with Nandini Chirimar and silk aquatint with Kathy Caraccio. I often combine several techniques in a single print: a line etching can be xeroxed and made into a paper litho and then I can layer a monotype over it. Or I start with a collagraph then incorporate monotype and finally glue etched images on Asian paper over the whole print.

Some of the subjects that I explore in painting—landscapes and animal and bird imagery—have continued to inspire my printmaking. But even when drawing on a copper plate or painting plexi for monotype, the subject transforms into something to “hang my paint on” as I have always liked to call it. My approach in general is more expressionistic and gestural rather than refined and literal. I love the possibility of stretching, pushing even abusing whatever medium I am working in, whether the physicality of paint on a canvas or as I grow in more confident in etching techniques, testing how much I can play with the various grounds. I sometimes draw more spontaneously and directly into soft ground, for example. I have learned from Vijay that mistakes can—with patience and time and a lot of fearlessness—turn into wonderful prints; techniques used along the way may never be duplicated, but the magic of seeing what looked like a disaster bloom into one of my favorite pieces is worth all the effort… in spite of curses or tears. Working with hard ground—a process I resisted for several years, preferring the painterly quality of sugar lift—has translated to my drawing with new approaches to mark-making. Etching rekindled my love of drawing, which, when painting time was limited to only 20 hours a week fell by the wayside.

I am so grateful to MGC for providing such a nurturing, creative and welcoming environment for all artists of various backgrounds and worldviews. Since the loss of my own studio 5 years ago, it has become my “home” studio. One of the most wonderful advantages of working here at Manhattan Graphics is the community of serious-minded artists. I am deeply grateful to have received so much help and inspiration from so many printmakers here.

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New York City Department of Cultural Affairs | The Scherman Foundation for its generous and continuing support | The Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation | The Charles Locke Art Fund | The Jockey Hollow Foundation |  Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation | Friends and MGC members who have made donations to the Center


Our programs are supported in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.