Artist in focus: Jill Whitten
I studied painting at UT and always wanted to be an artist my whole life. Upon graduation I realized I might need another career and found Art Conservation in 1987. I went to conservation graduate school and have been a successful art conservator teaching colleagues and students and running a painting conservation studio with my husband, who is also a painting conservator. We have worked in Houston for the past 22 years.
I have been working with clay for the past 8 years and it has changed my life to have something so absorbing to work on and different from any other aspect of my life. We are fortunate to have such a lively environment in Houston. I also live part time in New Mexico and there is a big ceramics community there that I hope to become more a part of as the years go by.
When I started taking a ceramics class, it was an experiment. I had never worked in clay or made sculpture (except for a summer pottery class in high school) and it just blew my mind to sit in front of a lump of clay and make something functional or whimsical (a pretty apt description for much of my work) emerge. My father collected Mexican Folk Art and we went to the border of Mexico every year throughout my childhood and into adulthood. I love the sweetness, humanity, freedom, looseness and colors of Mexican folk art and try and incorporate these elements in my work.
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