Jesse Shaw (b.1980) is a printmaker from Tennessee primarily working in relief prints carved from linoleum blocks. His work is based in the narrative, satirical, political, and social commentary tradition of the graphic print. Jesse is currently working on a series of fifty prints depicting the epic story of America. Prints from his “American Epic” series of linocut prints have been exhibited nationally in Nashville, New Orleans, New York, New Jersey, and North Carolina.
When I pulled my first print my artistic vision became tangible for the first time. After the second print I began to realize what the word infinite could mean to me. I gained personal meanings to many words through printmaking, including devotion, self-discipline, perseverance, and craftsmanship. I traveled to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire to study Jose Clemente Orozco’s mural “The Epic of American Civilization” in 2008. Upon seeing the mural in person I was struck by how powerful the work is and spent an afternoon admiring the imagery. This mural was the initial inspiration that motivated me to begin my interpretation of the American Story. This interest in Orozco’s work led me to Mexico to study Mexican printmaking and the works of other Mexican muralists including Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. The intensity and sincerity in the murals, along with the history of the political and social purpose of printmaking in Mexico, brought me to working on prints in the style of muralism. I have been working on the American Epic series for seven years and have completed 27 prints. The narrative of the work expands as I continue to study topical events, history, art, printmaking in other cultures, and subjects relevant to what is happening in my work. Each piece is it’s own venture, and I find that a very exciting way to create. The work is shown while in progress as the series reaches the fifty prints that will make up the collection. In addition to the series, I have continued to explore other mediums, techniques, and collaborations as an extension of the American Epic prints.