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Jill Stevens - September 2023

Jill Stevens - Sept '23 Spotlight Artist
Jill Stevens - Sept '23 Spotlight Artist

How and where did your art practice begin? 

I started working with wood about 23 years ago when I wanted intricate crown molding installed in my home and couldn’t find a carpenter to do it. I bought a book, a back saw and used a coping saw that belonged to my grandfather to install it myself. My hobby grew into more and more tools and projects. Then about 8 years ago I had an idea to make art out of wood.

Where do you draw inspiration for your forms/designs? 

I draw inspiration from the lines and shapes around us in nature, people, and spaces.

How do you plan your pieces and how do you decide when they’re finished?

My pieces start with a drawing. All the design happens before I start cutting the wood. A piece is usually done once the polyurethane goes on. It’s pretty permanent and hard to go back and make changes at that point; not to say that I haven’t pulled out some sandpaper and done so.

What draws you to your specific/preferred medium? 

I love wood. There are so many types of wood with different grains and textures. I like shaping it and revealing the grain with dyes and finishes. Every time I am finishing a piece of wood I am in awe of the wood’s beauty. I also like the 3-dimensional possibilities of wood.

Who were your mentors or what resources did you use to learn your medium? 

I learned mainly by reading and trial and error. Bryan Holmen, here in town has given me tips regarding working with wood and adhesives over the years. I have no formal art training or schooling. But I grew up in a family of artists, interior designers, and creative people. We were always encouraged to “think outside the box.”

What challenges does your medium or process present and how do you adjust for or react to those challenges as they arise? 

Wood has a lot of imperfections and inconsistencies. Densities and moistures vary. It expands and contracts with humidity and weather. There are more challenges than we have time to talk about. But a couple things I do is use mainly thin stock wood, high quality plywood, and I seal everything.

What result can a finished piece or your process yield that makes you feel rewarded or proud? 

I am proud of my art process because it is my own. Wood art is on the rise, but I have a specific technique with wood dyes that I created myself. I feel rewarded when someone tells me my art pulls them in. I love creating drama and that is always the goal. Another reward is allowing people to touch my art. My art is like furniture, sealed with polyurethane. It is very durable. People and children like to feel the wood textures. A couple blind people that visited my festival booth this summer were able to experience the art by touching it. The joy it gave them was quite rewarding.

Where is your practice now, what is your focus, where is it growing? 

I just started selling my art this year. I have so many pieces in my head. I want to create bigger pieces and I want to fill walls.

Upcoming events/sales/where can your work be purchased? 

My art can be purchased at the amazing Art Hub in Cambridge, Overt Gallery in Stoughton and on my website,

My next event is the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA) Fall Gallery night, on November 3, 5-9pm. I am being sponsored by the Sprinkman Design Collective at 622 W Washington Ave.

How do community art spaces like Art Hub enhance your ability to make, distribute, and celebrate art? 

Jacy has done such a great job creating a space and an atmosphere that is welcoming and not intimidating for both the consumer and the artist. I think that is so important because it makes art accessible to everyone. Besides the wide variety of art, there is a “be creative vibe” when you walk in the door. There are so many ways to experience art and Art Hub covers a lot of them! Art Hub is a true celebration of art.

What role do places like Art Hub play in having an art practice that is also a business? 

The Art hub had given my community exposure. People I don’t know have told me they saw my work at the Art Hub!

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