Downen’s art is a focused investigation of the symbiotic relationship between the human body and architecture expressed in temporal installations, drawings, and models. Her art envisions a place of interdependent relation between the human body and architecture, where the exchanging forces and tensions of construction, deterioration, and restoration emerge as thematic possibilities.
Jill Downen is an assistant professor of sculpture at the Kansas City Art Institute, where she teaches in the sculpture department. Significant awards include: 2010 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship, MacDowell Colony National Endowment for the Arts residency, and CitÈ International des Arts Residency in Paris. Downen was selected for the 2004 Great Rivers Biennial, a grant and exhibition sponsored by Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and the Gateway Foundation. Downen has been invited to lecture about her work extensively, including the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. and the Luce Irigaray Circle Philosophy Conference in New York. Her art has been reviewed in publications including Art in America, Sculpture, Art Papers, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the New York Times. Downen lives and maintains her studio in Kansas City, and is represented by the Bruno David Gallery in St. Louis. She holds a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA as a Danforth Scholar from Washington University in St. Louis.
The body is the primary vehicle one has for understanding the world. I want to offer viewers immersive environments that heighten the senses and ways of knowing that are often private and experiential. I see architecture as an extension of the body; a prolongation of self. In my visual language, the city is flesh, buildings are like bodies and the human body is a temporal form. I see human culture as being in a state of need for stillness and quietness. I would like to see people slow down. My art offers audiences a place to alter their perceptions in order to see and think in new ways.