A R T I S T S P O T L I G H T
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 dangling 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 not only welcome but is an integral 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.
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 email@example.com
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