Ellen Shattuck Pierce

Overflow 3
12 x 12 Monoprint, Relief Cut and Collage, Variable Edition, 2019


As a printmaker, I am drawn to the repetitive processes involved in my medium. I carve linoleum, creating a matrix of incised lines from which I print an image. To print, I ink the carved linoleum block with a roller and transfer the image onto paper through the use of pressure supplied by a printing press. Carving, inking, and rolling the block and paper through the press are performed a multitude of times. In my work I seek to express the beauty and terror of repeating patterns: both the patterns of habitual human action and those that are decorative.

My most recent suite of prints depicts patterns of human behavior, the natural world and the design world, and how they intersect. The combinations between these worlds are intricate and beguiling but often unsettling. As each space fills with patterns, the environment becomes unstable. The well-constructed detail starts to fall apart, and unexpected imagery erupts. For example, a knitter’s wool spins into a spider’s web. The comforting predictability of patterns is disrupted by the idea that something is wrong. The series illustrates how our best efforts to control our environments, to create calm, and to build predictable patterns in our lives can lead to obsession.


Ellen Shattuck Pierce moved to Boston to pursue her art career after growing up in Rutland. Pierce went to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, graduated from UMass Boston, and received her Ed.M in Arts Education from Harvard. Being part Canadian, Pierce longed to spend time in Canada and moved to Toronto to complete her MFA at York University. During this time, Nunavut Arctic College in Iqaluit, Nunavut invited her to teach a month-long printmaking course. The stark landscape and the rich stories told in the Inuit artists’ work has had a lasting impact on Pierce’s art. After returning to Iqaluit a second time, Pierce settled in Boston where she teaches art to elementary students in Cambridge and works in her studio. Studio life and the home life she shares with her husband, two teen boys, a dog, and a cat, inform one another in complimentary ways.