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Jill was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio. In what was a nearly continuous move to the southwest, she received her BFA from Northern Arizona University in 1981. After receiving her MA she quickly moved to teaching and selling her art. She returned to Arizona in 2021, and creates sculpture and functional work, while teaching ceramic classes at Yavapai College and at the Reitz Ranch Center for Ceramic Education.

I’ve lived my life immersed in playing and working with clay. Anything I’ve ever visualized came true with clay. I have strong memories as a child, digging and forming cool, wet clay from the Ohio ground. As a teen, while waiting for my mother to pick me up from an afternoon at the Toledo Art Museum, I looked up to see an exhibit of ceramicist Toshiko Takaezu’s (1922-2011) work, and was struck with the sudden realization “oh- this is art!” And this is what I want my life to reflect.

While working for my BFA at NAU, I immersed myself in the culture of Northern Arizona’s Native American Reservations – a big switch from the Midwest museums. l spent summers teaching on the Diné and Hopi reservations. It was an ethereal experience for me; I honed my skills but more, I absorbed the reflection and impressions of a clay art form that I could never have previously imagined. Resolving the duality of my college training and the immersion in a world where symbolism and dreams were primary was so precious.

The ultimate simplicity of Native pottery awed me. As a child, a piece of rock outside of a pawn shop covered in gold paint could awe me. As an adult I want to incorporate that childlike curiosity. I realized the pieces in the museums that seemed touched with gold were then so precious. Shining Woman talks about both my childlike reverence and my amazement as an adult.

Fine Art Gallery