TAMIU’s Laredo Mobile Letterpress Brings Art-Centric Projects to Campus and the Community at Large

Traditional letterpress printing has made its way to Laredo with a series of community events hosted by students, faculty, and staff at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU). Together they have collectively spent the last year creating vibrant works made from vintage typographic equipment.

In the Spring 2020 semester, TAMIU Assistant Professor of Art Jesse Shaw received a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Aided by the University’s Office of Research and Sponsored Projects, funds from the grant helped start Laredo’s mobile printing press.


The proposed project purchased vintage letterpress materials with wood and metal type and aimed to provide a year of public programming, Shaw explained.

“For the programming, we welcomed two guest artists to carry out typographic projects. The mission of the project was to give the people of Laredo a voice through the tradition of handmade posters and letterpress prints and to teach the history of the process,” Shaw said.

As the COVID-19 pandemic strained the search for the necessary equipment, Shaw and his students found a typography contractor who would restore and deliver typography in time for the fall 2020 semester.

The first project for the Laredo Mobile Letterpress was an opportunity for collaboration between students of Alexander High School art teacher Erika Buentello and university students. High school students worked on their designs remotely from home and sent them to university printmaking to be physically printed by socially distant students in the on-campus printmaking studio. University students then hand-dyed the paper and created patterns to match the text.

Check out some of the artwork created by Alexander High School and TAMIU students at https://www.instagram.com/p/CH_azG5lNij/.

During the spring 2021 semester, Romero, Shaw, and research assistant Elizabeth Kennedy also hosted an outdoor event at The Outlet Shoppes in Laredo that culminated in a mural exhibit. To see the wall display, visit https://www.instagram.com/p/CNGee06FM4j/.

During the summer and fall 2021 semester, Romero, Shaw, and research assistant Melissa Arredondo hosted several outdoor events and workshops on campus through the Laredo Public Library.

A popular workshop on campus was the LAREDO Language typography project which resulted in a gallery of typographic works on display at Dusty’s Gameroom. Here is an overview of some of the works created: https://www.instagram.com/p/CT15w0eFCDt/.

The students also participated in a Dia De Los Muertos celebration at the Laredo Center for the Arts. The prints created at the community festival used ink mixed with copal incense powder. See more photos from the event at https://www.instagram.com/p/CVzJ_eoMFX0/.

The fall 2021 semester also brought two guest artists who met with students from the University. Guest artists included Keri Miki-Lani Schroeder, who specializes in bookmaking, and Cynthia Marsh, a pioneer in the revival of letterpress printing and preservation, Shaw said.

Schroeder led a book-making workshop with students and produced an edition of 70 zines titled “Unseen City”. The photos of this project can be seen on https://www.instagram.com/p/CVLBzXGlu4_/.

Marsh hosted four workshops, two at the Laredo Public Library and two on campus. The workshops helped assemble Marsh’s newest project, “Printed River,” which features a piece of fabric measuring six feet wide and over 40 feet long.

“The piece is made up of Laredo’s thoughts, memories and hopes for the Rio Grande River,” Shaw said.

An overview of the project is available at https://www.instagram.com/p/CWLnyNQl8o3/.

The latest endeavor of the Laredo Mobile Letterpress is an exhibition at the Laredo Center for the Arts, which features works created by typography throughout 2020-21.

Through the typographic initiative, Shaw and his students hope to continue collaborating with community partners, as well as the university community.

“The Laredo Mobile Letterpress remains accessible to TAMIU students and guest artists. Special print events will still take place to further the mission,” Shaw said.

For those interested in pursuing a degree in art, the University currently offers a Bachelor of Arts in Art and a Bachelor of Arts with All Levels Certification for those wishing to transition into a career in teaching.

More information on these degree programs can be found at http://catalog.tamiu.edu/undergraduate-information/arts-sciences/fine-performing-arts/. Additionally, students can also choose to minor in Art History or Studio History.

For more information, contact Shaw by email at [email protected]

TAMIU Spring 2022 enrollment is ongoing. Classes begin Tuesday, January 18, 2022. Late registration ends Monday, January 24, 2022. To learn more about TAMIU’s registration processes, visit the dedicated registration center athttps://go.tamiu.edu/registration.

University offices will close on a state-sanctioned holiday at noon on Thursday, December 23, 2021. University offices will reopen at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, January 3, 2022. In case of emergency, please contact University Police at 956.326.2100.