Whether spinning her own tales, chronicling observations from the world of clay and the world at large, or facilitating others’ voices through word and form, Jill Foote-Hutton has always been committed to the craft of storytelling. As of January 2020, she was appointed as the Editor of The Studio Potter. Born and raised by the descendants of hillbillies, Jill is an artist following in the tradition of medicine woman and storyteller through her creative practice dubbed Whistlepig Studio. She has earned a living as a teacher, curator, writer, artist, and arts administrator since 2003. Specifically, she was the Coordinator of Artist Services and Storytelling at Northern Clay Center, Curator of Exhibitions at Red Lodge Clay Center, and Gallery Director and lead faculty for seven years at East Central College.
This fall, North Hennepin Community College has the pleasure of hosting her art in the brand new exhibit, Civilized Wildlings. The exhibition will consist of a collection of vessels informed by art nouveau pottery made in Bohemia at the turn of the century by Eduard Stellmacher, whose works were a celebration of the natural world. His forms were harmonious curves crawling with creatures from the forest with thick details and opulent glazes. But the flora and fauna crawling over and growing around the forms created by Jill Foote-Hutton are decidedly more anthropomorphized, sometimes comically so. Working in layers, both formally and conceptually, the creatures are portrayed wearing hats, monocles, cuffs, and sometimes Victorian collars – an allusion to the habit of the conquering classes around the world who have historically tried to tame and civilize that which has been deemed wild. Learn about Jill and her artistic process in the Q&A below!
Where did you find your inspiration for Civilized Wildlings?
I have been looking to nature for my inspiration for some time, before that? The child of a single mother who watched too many episodes of The Muppet Show. Most recently though, I know for certain the book Monsters and Maidens, about turn-of-the century art, pottery and vintage National Park posters remained in my head. As I was driving up to Minneapolis, it occurred to me that my fascination with the work of Ardmore artists in South Africa probably snuck into my imagination too, but I was not conscious of it during my process, as I was working. I brought a copy of Monsters and Maidens to leave in the gallery during the run of the exhibition.
What medium is your favorite to work with?
Words, every object I make has a story that I know, but not always in a tangible way. Ceramics is neck-and-neck in the race for my favorite medium. Finding a way to bring both of them together is the realization of a long-pursued vision, and this feels like the very beginning of finally seeing that vision start to focus.
What do you wish your art conveys to visitors?
Permission to see through their own lens. The beauty in our world. I don't know, this is an impossible question. I can tell you what it conveys to me. I have little control over how it is interpreted, but I do hope it brings joy, thoughtfulness, and a smile.