Jess Hill

Jess Hill received her BFA in Printmaking, with a minor in Art History, at the University of West Georgia in 2016. She is a recipient of the 2018 Heinmark Artist in Residence at Brown University and the 2017 Emerging Artist Residency from Atlanta Printmakers Studio. Jess Hill also participates in several art shows in the Atlanta area. She is currently living and working in Atlanta, Ga.

Jess Hill was also born and raised in the South to two pastors. She is a wife and mother of three beautiful children. Hill’s work is informed by her life experiences, the experiences of the society she lives in, and ultimately the world she dreams of. Her work focuses on how we view each other through the prisms of race and gender. It also represents how beautiful and strong people are. A few artists that inspire Jess Hill are Faith Ringgold, Yinka Shonibare, Frida Kahlo, Bisa Butler, Delita Martin and LaToya Hobbs to name a few.

Jess Hill’s art explores the resilience of Black Womanhood/Motherhood and other marginalized groups and depicts their dream of overcoming many levels of oppression. Her art analyzes African folklore, quilted patterns and symbolisms. Historical and current social issues also influence her work. Her pieces promote the love of self and identity, by portraying all humans as beings of value. Her goal is to change our thinking from individuality to global similarity- seeing “me” in “them,” and “them in “me.”

About Printmaking

I was introduced to printmaking in college in 2012. I was absolutely blown away by its versatility as a medium. I primarily create relief prints. I am also a painter and collage artist. Through printmaking I can combine these three mediums to create the final piece.

First I take a photo (usually of a family member) and sketch out the composition onto wood or linoleum. Once the outline sketch is down, I then go into the piece with a sharpie and map out my highlights and shadows. I also have fun with the angles and shapes in the face/body to create a modern take on carving a human, sometimes adding patterns.

After the full drawing is mapped out, I cover the entire piece with a wash of color. This step is done to help me see where I carve. Depending on what you carve on, sometimes it can be difficult to see what you’ve done. The top layer is the same color as the layer underneath, when color is added to the top layer it is easily to see what has been carved away.

My next step is to carve. Many hours are spent on this step depending on how large or how detailed the piece is, this step can take several weeks. I am a mother of 3; an 11 year old, 2 year old and an 8 month old baby. Needless to say, time is a tough commodity to come by.

After the piece is carved, comes the actual printing. I primarily use black ink to print. I roll out the ink onto the artwork that I have carved. Once it is fully covered, I take a sheet of paper and rub/press down on the paper to transfer the image to the paper. Lots of elbow grease is used lol. Next step I pull the print and what I have carved will be mirrored on the sheet of paper.

My process has changed over the years. I used to stop here, with a black and white image on paper. However, I absolutely adore color and high-quality paper is expensive. I started to search for other ways to bring in color and landed on fabrics. I went to several consignment shops and fabric stores to find material. Then I printed with black ink on fabric. This satisfied me for a while, but I still felt that more was needed from the work.
I started printing one piece on multiple colors and types of fabric. Then I cut out different sections and glue/sew/collage the pieces back together to create a final product. If I think a section need additional color, I paint that section. And that is how it all comes together!


Abbreviated Process

  • I take a photo and sketch on a block of wood or linoleum.
  • I use a sharpie marker to add additional highlights and shadows and map out the rest of the composition.
  • Carving time! I complete the outline first and then fill in the rest. This it the most time-consuming part of my printing process.
  • Time to print! I roll black ink out on the block and then place paper or fabric down. The next step is rubbing and adding pressure to the piece. Like a stamp.
  • Next, I print on fabric, cutting the pieces and collaging them back together.
  • I love painting on top of the fabric if I feel additional color is needed.
Acres of Ancestry
20 x 26 inches
Collection of Acres of Ancestry Initiative/Black Agrarian Fund
Photo: Melissa Alexander/Phyllis Iller