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September 27, 2021

A R T I S T    S P O T L I G H T

Jill Scipione

Jill Scipion Mint Market Floral Crochet Art

Art is not something you expect to encounter when you are just going to drop off packages at the post office on Montgomery ave. in Jersey City. As a matter of fact, it's probably the last thing you expect to see on the way there.  A mundane daily mail run to the post office turned into a visual vacation when I spotted what looked like colorful floral bird's nests hanging from a tree planted in a cement road island. The unusual pop of color and a wooden sign with the artist's name, Jill Scipione, intrigued me and lured me in closer to examine them in better detail.

At first glance the balls looked like they were made from sweaters or floral knitwear of some sort. Their perfectly symmetrical sizes and neat arrangement of color almost give the viewer the impression that they may have been machine made or pre-fabricated in a factory. On the contrary, they were tediously crocheted and stitched together by the artist's hand, along with some of her female helpers. Their placement, in public space at a time where galleries were closed and museums were not open to the general public due to the pandemic, was an unexpected and convenient way for people to appreciate art outside of normal settings while it was not allowed. It reminded new and old residents of Jersey City that this is a special place where art is welcome and is a part of this lively, diverse community.  No matter how bad things seemed, one could outside and be comforted by the art placed around our community to brighten our day.

The encounter with Jill's beautiful objects was like unexpectedly finding a 4ct. diamond on your way to work. Every season I conjure up 5 new heads to place in each of our shop's whimsical windows. It's not always easy to come up with a theme that will work within our artist restrictions and not to mention budget. The art we make is not common and there is no instruction manual on how to make it, therefore we must be efficient and practical when it comes to the process and choice of materials. One wrong choice can throw off the whole project. It's a fete accomplished for all of womenkind to say the least. Jill's crocheted floral creations were the ideal candidates and that. Spherical in shape and mesmerizing in color, stitched together by hands whose owner had the best of intentions - this season's heads do their job every single day - inspire our entire community and brighten our street day in and day out.

Each head is always unique and has it's own color palette but they are all always equal and part of the same girl gang. They even have their own style and personalties, but at the end of the day they are all still Mint Girls.  After having handmade, papermached, butterfly creatures come to life in our faceted 9.5 ft tall, view-in, windows on Grove Street, Jersey City all summer long, it was going to be difficult to compete with ourselves. Add on of top that an indismmissable, celebratory feeling in the air because we ALL survived a pandemic, I knew that our Fall/Winter 2021 heads had to be SOMETHING ELSE. And something else they are.  

Crochet is a process of creating textiles by using a crochet hook to interlock loops of yarn, thread, or strands of other materials. ( wikipedia)

  Women are capable of anything, we know that better than anyone. But there is a certain kind stereotyping as to the kind of work we are traditionally expected, encouraged and taught to perform from a young age. Jill calls this kind of work:

"Woman's Work"

Even though things have progressed, we are still expected to cook, clean, look pretty and take care of children. Crocheting, sewing and even selling clothing can be attributed to the same class of work.  It's also work that would never be taken seriously or tossed for rubbish in the modern art world. Most men would never have the patience for this repetitious work. Yet many of us do this work happily each and everyday. But why is a practice that is just as technical and tedious, with roots dating back to the early 1600s, as any other art form regarded as nothing more than a craft or hobby. You rarely see it in galleries, art shows or museums - mostly in crochet's distant relative form, Tapestry. Jill's work pushes the boundaries of the medium itself, the Crochet yarn. The hook and needle. The repetitious motion human hands pulling the yarn in and out of each individual loop to create small knots that form part of larger ones that form the structure of each petal of each flower. 
The word crochet came from the Old French word crochet, meaning ‘small hook.’ Which in turn is from croche. Croche comes from the Germanic word croc. Both mean hook. ( Crochet penguin)
  These floral crocheted sculptures are a small but proud monument to represent what small acts of kindness, love and community can produce.  May they be a daily reminder to us all that nothing great ever started complete and that we are are all but one pixel in a big picture. 
Jill Scipione Crochet Heads Mint Market


Purple Dahlias Jill Scipione Crochet Heads Mint Market

Classic Roses in a Neutral Color palet
Jill Scipione Crochet Heads Mint Market
Red Carnations
Jill Scipione Crochet Heads Mint Market

Chrysanthemum -'Mums' 

Jill Scipione Crochet Heads Mint Market
Flower Power Daisies in a rainbow assortment of colors
Jill Scipione art
Jill is a Bayonne based female artist. Born in Ashtabula, Ohio, on Lake Erie, she received early art training at the Butler Institute of American Art when her family moved to the Youngstown area, and majored in painting at Carnegie-Mellon University where she earned her BFA in 1982.

In 1993 she was awarded a Pollock-Krasner grant. Her work has been seen in galleries, museums, and art-spaces in New York City, New Jersey, Boston, Santa Fe, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Scipione's work concerns corporeality, exploring themes of body and soul. She works from a variety of source material including sacred art, marine life and undersea videos, butcher charts and text books. Scipione began working from museum biology and anthropology collections at the Smithsonian and other museums in the mid-90s, incorporating the imagery into her artwork. In 2007, she began an ongoing drawing study of human skulls of historic peoples from global, anthropological museum collections, as part of a long-term residency at the American Museum of Natural History, New York.


Jill Scipione's is a founder of Victory Hall Inc., a non-profit arts organization in Jersey City and manager of Rainbow Thursdays Artists, an education and exhibition program that engages the developmentally disabled in the visual arts. 
She is a community advocate for the disabled and for environmental issues.
 

For more information on her artwork and exhibitions, please contact her at  jbscipione@gmail.com

For more information on Jill please see her websites
www.drawingrooms.org
www.jillscipione.com

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