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Art & Life with Jill King

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jill King.

Jill, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I was raised in Northbrook Illinois- the second oldest of four children. The subdivision I grew up in was called Williamsburg Square, in an off-white house with forest green shutters that resembled a southern colonial from another era, I never quite felt at home. I yearned for nature and the wild and wanted desperately to live like the kids in the movies who went fishing and walked across the creeks by placing stepping stones in the moving water. Instead, digging in the mud in my backyard was my favorite past time. I was often looking for fossils or ancient artifacts while I was digging, but the chance of discovering buried treasures in an upper middle class suburban back yard was slim to none. So, I began creating things. I loved the feel of mud in my hands and often spent hours manipulating and forming imaginary cities and animals. As I grew, so did my materials. My dresser drawers were filled with scraps of garbage I collected off the neighborhood streets; a piece of metal fallen from a car would become a body for a figure or cut out hole in a milk carton would become stage for a diorama. My hands became my tools, like a shovel to a Gardener, I used them often. I knew at a very young age that I could conjure up beautiful things- bring them into existence. When I was creating, I was present and content, at home.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
Several years ago, while in graduate school art history class, I remember viewing a little watercolor by William Blake. This image had stuck in my mind- it was of a young boy standing on a rock pointing up at the night sky. Written in small letters next to the boy’s hand was the word, “Look”. Blake’s painting had a profound effect on me and my work, which is inspired by own experiences exploring the cosmos and studying breathtaking images from the Hubble Space telescope. Looking up into the night sky gives me a shared sense of belonging and stirs my imagination. Formed by stretching an opaque fabric over a linear steel construction, my current sculptures look like fantastical celestial cloud formations or forces of nature such as a hurricane or a budding flower that have come to life in three dimensions. My art is constructed out of a wide range of materials, such as soldered or welded steel, sewn fabrics impregnated with acrylic gel, painted pigments and sometimes I even incorporate LED lights. I often weave ancient symbols and formulas from Alchemy and Mysticism onto the surface of the fabric. I do this, as a means to strip away the layers of the past, to reexamine and transform patterns and structures that no longer serve or even have the possibility to serve our present culture. I intend for my sculptures to embody human qualities such as; revelation, empowerment and transformation. These artworks are designed to motivate and encourage viewers to “look up,” grow, learn, face the darkness and journey into their own uncharted territories.

How do you think about success, as an artist, and what quality do you feel is most helpful?
Join a group of active professional artists. Get involved! Teach. Apply to shows and Public art calls.
I am most proud of my large-scale public sculptures. It was my friendships/exposure to fellow professional sculptors that propelled me to think and create BIG! I have been a member of Chicago Sculpture International (CSI) from 2010 until now. It is a wonderful group of professional artists. Being a member of this group has elevated me as a sculptor and introduced me to new concepts, opportunities, resources and materials. We have regular General Membership meetings where I get to converse, exchange ideas and share processes with kindred spirits. CSI, is a 501(c) (3) membership organization established in 2004 devoted to championing sculptors and the creation of sculpture. Its members seek to expand the understanding and appreciation of sculpture through exhibits, workshops, and collaborations. Chicago Sculpture International brings sculpture to the community and promotes a community for sculpture and sculptors. In addition, I have been educating and guiding budding and seasoned artists throughout Chicagoland for over a decade. Teaching has aided me in my personal growth. I have learned to be a little more patient, made great friends and developed inner strength. It is important not to operate in a vacuum and sharing one’s strengths and weaknesses with others is crucial to a successful art career! I currently teach adults/teens at the Evanston Art, Center in Evanston IL.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I recently joined a collective Gallery called “Space 900”. It is an art collective and exhibition space, which is relocated in the heart of Evanston, IL. Founded in 1983, current core members are fine artists of multiple disciplines and mediums. The gallery provides core members and other artists in the community exhibition opportunities and performance space. Core member artists are Todd Anderson, Ken Avick, Colleen Conley, Clark Ellithorpe, Judith Roston Freilich, Jill King, Joanna Pinsky, and Judy Solomon. Website: *Come and check out the Gallery. We will be having a group show during “Evanston Made” Opening May 31, 2018, 5:00pm-8:30pm.

I have exhibited in private and public places such as The Harris Theater-Millennium Park-Chicago, The Garfield Park Conservatory, The Convention Center-Grand Rapids Michigan (voted into top 100 out of 1500 as part of the 2013 Art Prize Competition), Expo Chicago, SOFA Chicago, the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art in Chicago and many galleries throughout the Midwest. My work is in several private and public collections throughout the country, including the Loyola Medical Center in Burr Ridge, IL. and The Lorraine Morton, Evanston Civic Center. I am a very grateful recipient of the 2017- Helen Coburn Meier & Tim Meier Charitable Foundation for the Arts- Arts Achievement Award.

I served as Education Chair on the Board of Directors of Chicago Sculpture International, from 2015 thru 2018, where I assisted in creating educational workshop opportunities and events to promote the organizations members composed of 150 professional sculptors. You can view my art at

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Donna Bliss

    May 8, 2018 at 5:01 pm

    This is absolutely beautiful work. I enjoyed learning about Jill’s motivation and inspiration.

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