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JILL DOWNEN (dis)embody

JILL DOWNEN: (dis)embody April 7 - 29, 2006 Bruno David Gallery 3721 Washington Boulevard Saint Louis, 63108 Missouri, U.S.A. Director: Bruno L. David This catalogue was published in conjunction with the exhibition JILL DOWNEN: (dis)embody Editor: Bruno L. David Catalog Designer: Yoko Kiyoi Designer Assistant: Sage A. David and Claudia R. David Printed in USA All works courtesy of Bruno David Gallery and Jill Downen Artwork photos by Richard Sprengeler Cover Image: JILL DOWNEN: (dis)embody (installation view) Copyright Š 2006 Bruno David Gallery , Inc. All Right Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of Bruno David Gallery, Inc.


Essay by Kim Humphries Afterword by Bruno L. David Checklist of the Exhibition Biography


JILL DOWNEN: (dis)embody Essay by Kim Humphries 2

Imagine a world where inanimate architecture and human beings can interact in unreal ways. In this imagined place, each has the potential for morphing with the other in impossible combinations to meld and become, in varying degrees, one with each other. This is the transformation that Jill Downen asks us to empathetically consider. Architecture derives from us, it shelters us and it requires us to substantiate its meaning and purpose. Alternately, we require it. In many ways, we define ourselves through it and, depend on it to sustain and protect us. In recent years, Jill Downen has brought to the art world a virtually seamless topography in which she blends, morphs and compares the built environment to a kind of body. Using common construction materials Downen has created this recombinant world of sinew and sags - of bulges and bumps. Some beg a caress. Others suggest a step back. In (dis)embody we are shown more than a broad epidermis; so critical to Downen’s previous projects. This exhibition moves toward internal forms of anatomy. Discreet objects resonate within the artist’s continuum of an installation environment; yet gain the ability to amplify individual and specific nuances. Some closely resemble (human?) organs; others are rooted deeply in the realm of geometric architecture. White as the walls on which they hang, an initial suggestion of stasis emerges from the subtle forms. The monochromatic aesthetic allows the conceptual energy of the work to surface quickly with no blood, secretions, debris or color to distract. An aspect of time, embodied in the ideas of stasis and temporality, underlies the work. In Overflow, a length of 2 x 4 lumber props a sagging blob of fleshy wall in a seemingly desperate attempt to contain the effects of gravity. This stud, (the only nonwhite object in the exhibition) is like the ‘ribs’ that make up the structure in the very walls of the gallery. In this work, the futile act of resisting time and change is made clear. The metamorphosis occurring in Flexure and Stratum also possesses a temporal dimension. Neither the previous state nor the outcome is prescribed, but rather a process of change is manifest in the fluid contours and morphing nodules.


The exhibit (dis)embody is presented as a pliable axiom. While Downen’s art embodies significant conversation and relevance to the human condition - our symbiotic relationship to architecture and eventual mortality - little is prescribed. In the exhibition, Downen presents a void between the imaginary and the physical, between the corporeal and the disembodied. In this subtle space, questions arise along with a suspended moment that invites quietness for contemplation. - Kim Humphries

Kim Humphries is an artist. His work was recently on view at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and the Bruno David Gallery. This essay is one in a series of introductions to the gallery’s exhibitions written by fellow gallery artists and friends.


Afterword by Bruno L. David

I am pleased to exhibits a new body of work by Jill Downen. This exhibition, (dis)embody, expands upon her ideas regarding the relationship between the human body and architecture. The works in this show explore a sense of humanness in the built environment. Part installation, part wall-mounted objects, the exhibit is comprised of forms sculpted from common building materials such as plaster, insulation foam, drywall, and 2X4’s. St. Louis audiences will recognize Downen’s subtle and elegant aesthetic of white on white forms that blend into the architecture of the wall. Imaginative and physically realized, Downen’s hybrid works reveal a presence softly enhanced by light and shadow. Often in her work, rolls of architectural skin seem to bulge and sag from the gallery walls. Other forms evoke folded flesh, internal organs, and spiny ridges, each meticulously shaped with seductive surfaces. Jill Downen was a 2004 Great Rivers Biennial award recipient. Her installation, The Posture of Place, explored the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis’ building like a body that settled into its physical and social identity. Recent installations were shown at Islip Art Museum, New York, Tarble Arts Center, Charleston, Illinois, and Museum of Contemporary Art, Ft. Collins, Colorado. She was recently awarded a residency at Cité Internationale des Art in Paris, France. Downen holds an MFA from Washington University as a Danforth Scholar and a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute. She currently teaches at the Washington University Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts.



Checklist of the exhibition and Images


Over Flow, 2006

Polystyrene, gypsum, wood and latex paint, Dimensions Variable



Installation View, 2006 Polystyrene, gypsum, wood and latex paint, Dimensions Variable



Lineament, 2006

Polystyrene, gypsum and latex paint, Dimenions Variable (7 elements)



Lineament, 2006 (detail)

Polystyrene, gypsum and latex paint, Dimenions Variable (7 elements)



Lineament, 2006 (detail)

Polystyrene, gypsum and latex paint, Dimenions Variable (7 elements)



Secret Ridge, 2005

Polystyrene, gypsum and latex paint, 21 x 57 x 5 inches



Flexure, 2006

Polystyrene and gypsum and latext paint, 45 x 9 x 4 inches



Vestibule, 2006

Polystyrene and gypsum, 11 x 10 x 4.5 inches



Stratum, 2006

Polystyrene, gypsum and latex paint, 19 x 53 x 10 inches



Vesicle, 2006

Polystyrene and gypsum, 13 x 9 x 4 inches



Orthosis, 2006

Polystyrene and gypsum, 20.5 x 3 x 2.75 inches



(dis)embody, (installation view, 2006)



(dis)embody, (installation view, 2006)



(dis)embody, (installation view, 2006)



(dis)embody, (installation view, 2006)



(dis)embody, (installation view, 2006)



The main concepts in my current work investigate the symbiotic relationship between the human body and architecture. Using materials consistent within a given architectural space, each installation endows the architecture with a human sense of being while maintaining the building’s integrity. The sculptural forms depict bulges, wrinkles, folds, and biomorphic elements that intertwine with walls, floors, and ceilings. My studio practice has taught me that architectural space is not a passive container of objects and bodies but an active dimension of relative energies. My interest is to stimulate the viewer’s awareness of space and their bodies’ relationship to the built environment. Areas demarcated by walls, floors and ceilings are not only perceived with the eye, but sensed and understood in directional terms such as above, below, inside, outside and beyond. Sensory experiences fuse the mind with architecture. The void created by a building’s walls is a space that my installations seek to decentralize. Through the sculpture, I want to expand and contract form and space in order to suggest a flexible, anxious, sexual and absurd sense of place. The following questions continually inform the work: In what ways can sculpture endow architecture with a human sense of being while maintaining the architecture’s integrity? How can the drama of sexuality and spatiality unfold within the context of the mathematical and geometric paradigms of architecture? The new work in “(dis)embody” explores an interest in subsurface structure, internal anatomy, and stasis through forms that flex, fold, recede, swell, and flow through a moment of development. The physicality of materials and subtle form integrate with the walls to transform the gallery space into a place that posses qualities of the immaterial. Issues such as the dichotomy between the corporeal and incorporeal, the tangible and nonmaterial, and the emergence of the gallery as a new conceptual space are central to this work, and to the development of my investigations of the body/building relationship.

- Jill Downen


JILL DOWNEN Lives and works in St. Louis, Missouri EDUCATION 2001 1989

M.F.A., Sculpture Washington University, St. Louis, MO B.F.A., Painting / Printmaking Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO

ONE-PERSON EXHIBITIONS 2006 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1995 1989

Bruno David Gallery, dis(embody), April, St. Louis, MO eGallery, Jill Downen: Uneasy Opposition, Tarble Arts Center, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, The Posture of Place, curated by Shannon Fitzgerald Great Rivers Biennial, St. Louis, MO Ninth Street Gallery, Body/Building: Involuntary Anatomies, St. Louis, MO A.R.C. Gallery, Rubber Wall, Frontspace, Chicago, IL Purdue University Beelke Gallery, Anxious Architecture, Purdue University, Lafayette, IN In-Form Gallery, MFA Thesis Exhibit, Lemp Brewery, St. Louis, MO North Gallery, The 116 N. 40th Series, St. Louis, MO Community Gallery, Visions of the Numinous, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Church Library, Kansas City, MO Kansas City Art Institute, Rites of Passage, Kansas City, MO


Overflow, (with Charles Gick),1708 Gallery, curated by Elizabeth Keller, Richmond, VA. Catalogue Symbiosis, Kirkland Fine Arts Center, Milikin University, Decatur, IL Flat Files, Contemporary Art Museum st. Louis, curated by Andrea Green, St. Louis, MO Inaugural Exhibition, Bruno David Gallery, St. Louis, MO Projects ’04, Islip art Museum Long Island center for Experimental Art, East Islip, NY Washington University School of Art Facutly Exhibit, Kemper Museum, St. Louis, MO 1984-2004 Twentieth Anniversary Celebration, Elliot Smith Contemporary Art, St. Louis, MO Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Art..., Elliot Smith Contemporary Art, St. Louis, MO Women Only, Elliot Smith Contemporary Art, St. Louis, MO Danforth Scholars Exhibit, Des Lee Gallery, St. Louis, MO Corners, Museum of Contemporary Art, curated by Erica France, Ft. Collins, CO Binational Art Exhibit, Curated by Maria Velasco, U.S. Embassy, Asuncion, Paraguay


2002 2001 2000 1999 1995 1994 1993 1992

Wear Structure, Open-End Gallery & Heaven Gallery, Chicago, IL 29th Bradley National Print & Drawing Exhibition, Peoria, IL Paper in Particular, Columbia College, Columbia, MO Three-artists, Meramec Art Gallery, St. Louis, MO 3 x 3, Meramec Art Gallery, St. Louis, MO Heuristic Origins, Second Floor Contemporary, curated by David Hall, Memphis, TN Exposure 4: The Spaces In-Between, Park Avenue Gallery, curated by Terry Suhre, St. Louis, MO Group Show, Winifsky Gallery, Salem State College, Salem, MA 4th Annual Invitational, North Gallery, St. Louis, MO Shack Town, Des Lee Gallery, curated by Michael Williams, St. Louis, MO 4th Annual Critical Mass One Night Stand, Crowe T. Brooks Gallery, St. Louis, MO Super-imposed, Des Lee Gallery, St. Louis, MO 6th Annual Regional Exhibit, St. Charles Community College, St. Peters, MO Structually Speaking, Art St. Louis, curated by Adrian Luchini, St. Louis, MO 2nd Annual Invitational, North Gallery, Ferguson, MO Contemporary Women Artist XI, Meramec Art Gallery, St. Louis, MO 5th Annual Regiona Exhibition, St. Charles County Community College, St. Peters, MO Golden Mean, Art St. Louis, St. Louis, MO Artists and Their Teachers, Hendren Gallery, Lindenwood University, St. Louis, MO Art St. Louis X, The Exhibition, Art St. Louis, St. Louis, MO Group Exhibition, Animalia Gallery, Saugatuck, MI 7th Annual Ecclesiastical Art Exhibit, Historic Trinity, Detroit, MI Two-Person Exhibition, St. Louis Community College at Forest Park, St. Louis, MO

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY Hughes, Jeffrey Kurz, Natalie Beall, Hugh. Humphries, Kim Sieloff, Alison and Friswold, Paul Fitzgerald, Shannon. Wagner, Ashley. Miller, Rob. Cooper, Ivy. Bonetti, David. Crone, Tomas. Beall, Hugh. Miller, Rob.


“Jill Downen”, Art Papers, July-August 2006 “Best in Show”, Alive Magazine, September 2006, p. 63 “Jill Downen at Bruno David Gallery”, Illusion Junkie, April, 2006. Web Video. “Jill Downen: (dis)embody.” Bruno David Gallery’ Series of Introductions, April 2006 “April is for Art Lovers.” Riverfront Times, April 6-12, 2006 “Uneasy Opposition.” Catalogue Essay. January, 2006. “Uneasy Opposition.” The Daily Eastern News, Charleston, IL. January 19, 2006. “’Over hung’ show or ‘Hung over’ critic?” Saintlouisart, November 17, 2005. “Bruno David Gallery: Inaugural Exhibition”, Riverfront Times, November 9, 2005. “Bruno David Gallery”, St. Louis Post Dispatch, November 9, 2005 “Bruno David Gallery”, 52nd City, October 2005 “The Bruno buzz”, West End Word, October 26, 2005 “Bruno David Gallery: Inaugural Exhibition”, Saintlouisart, October 25, 2005

Beall, Hugh. Bonetti, David. Sieloff, Alison. Murphy, Anne. Castro, Jan Garden. Bonetti, David. Cooper, Ivy. Harrison, Helen A. Hughes, Jeffrey. Bonetti, David. Zapf, Rudy Cooper, Ivy Woodcok, Tim Bonetti, David Cooper, Ivy Bonetti, David Callahan, Theresa Martelli, Rose. Bonetti, David. Cooper, Ivy. Bonetti, David. Cooper, Ivy. Bonetti, David. Callahan, Teresa. Bonetti, David. Bonetti, David. Callahan, Theresa. Smith, Brian. Sarah Szczepanski. Brouk, Tim. Zeller-Michaelson.A. Smith, Brian.

“Bruno David Gallery: Inaugural Exhibition”, Illusion Junkie, October 25, 2005. Web Video. “Bruno David Gallery: Inaugural Exhibition”, St. Louis Post Dispatch, October 20, 2005 “Grand Grand Center”, Riverfront Times, October 19, 2005 “Art News”, The Healthy Planet, September 2005 “Three Rivers Biennial,” Sculpture Magazine, New York, January 2005. p. 71 “Art in 2004,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 2, 2005 “Artist Celebrate Elliot Smith With Works Incorporating 20,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 3, 2004. p. F6. St. Louis, MO. “1984-2004 Twentieth Anniversary Celebration At Elliot Smith”, Riverfront Times, September 29-October 5, 2004, p. 178. St. Louis, MO. “Projects ’04,” The New York Times, September 26, 2004 “Jill Downen and the Posture of Place.” Art Works. Washington University in St. Louis. Fall 2004, vol. 9. “Installation Art is contemporary” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 1, 2004 “Your Are Here, Great Rivers Biennial,” Playback: St. Louis Pop Culture, August 2004 “2004 Great Rivers Biennial Exhibition,” Riverfront Times, July 28, 2004 “Off the Wall,” West End Word, cover story, July 21, 2004 “Cityscape,” Converstion with Michael Sampson, NPR 90.7 KWMU, July 16, 2004 “Great Rivers Exhibit gets contemporary in the Flow,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 11, 2004 “Surviving St. Louis,” Art Papers, May/June 2004 “Legends of the Fall - Critic’ Picks,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 2, 2004. p. 2 (Get Out). St. Louis, MO “Downtown Gallery Showcases Five Emerging Artists’ Work,” West End Word, January 21, 2004 “Smith Elliot: The Gallery Looks In The Mirror For Its 20th.”, Riverfront Times, September 15-21, 2004, St. Louis, MO. “Everything Show”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 18, 2004. p. F8. St. Louis, MO. “Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Art...”, Riverfront Times, July 28-August 3, 2004, p. 42. St. Louis, MO. “Women Only”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 9, 2004. p. F4. St. Louis, MO. “Women Only”, Riverfront Times, April 28-May 4, 2004. p. _.St. Louis, MO. “Gallery Hopping in the CWE”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 15, 2004. St. Louis, MO. “The Danforth Scholars Show.” West End Word, January 21,2004. St. Louis, MO “3 Sculptural-installation Artists are Great Rivers Biennial winners.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 30, 2003. St. Louis, MO. “Body/Building.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 9, 2003. St. Louis, MO “Body Art: Jill Downen’s Installations are Intelligent...” West End Word, November 12, 2003. St. Louis, MO “3 Artists at Meramec show far-apart styles”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 1,2002. “Danforth Scholars Reach Across Generations”, Washington University Magazine, Fall 2001. St. Louis, MO “Anxious Architecture”, Purdue Exponent . August 27, 2001. St. Louis, MO “Anxious Architecture,” Lafayette Journal and Courier, August 19, 2001. St. Louis, MO “MFA Thesis exhibit”, West End Word, May 10, 2001. St. Louis, MO “Super-imposed” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 9 2000. St. Louis, MO Missouri Arts Council, Guide to Programs & Annual Report, 2000-2001.


GRANTS & AWARDS 2004 2004 Grand Center Visionary Awards (Emerging Artist), St. Louis. MO Great Rivers Biennial Grant, Gateway Foundation and Contemporary Art Museum Saint Louis. St. Louis, MO 2002-06 Emerson Visiting Critics & Curators Series, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. (Visits with Ingrid Schaffner, Shamim Momin,Thom Collins, James Elaine, Douglas Fogle, Sylvia Chivaratanond, Hamza Walker) 1999-2001 Danforth Scholar Fellowship, Washington University, St. Louis, MO WRITING BY ARTIST “Transpolyblu”. West End Word, review at Elliot Smith Contemporary Art, February 22, 2001. St. Louis, MO VISITING ARTIST LECTURES / SYMPOSIUMS 2006 2005 2004 2001 1999 1998 1994 1993 1992


Virginia Commonwealth University, visiting artist, Richmond, VA Minimalist Symposium, The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St. Louis, Missouri Eastern Illinois University, lecture/critiques in conjunction with Uneasy Opposition, Charleston IL George Washington University, visiting artist, Washington D.C. Webster University, lecture on The Posture of Place Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, panel discussion, St. Louis, MO Memphis College of Art, lecture & critiques, in conjunction with Heuristic Origins Purdue University, lecture & critiques in conjunction with Anxious Architecture St. Louis Women’s Caucus for Art, Paintings in Space, lecture, University City Public Library, October. St. Louis, MO Purdue University, Structures for the Movement of Imagination, lecture & critiques, Lafayette, IN Community Gallery, Visions of the Numinous, gallery talk, Kansas City, MO Kansas City Art Institute, Surving as a Fine Artist, lecture & panel discussion, Kansas City, MO St. Louis Community College at Forest Park, lecture on current work, St. Louis, MO

Jill Downen: (dis)embody  

46 page fully illustrated color catalogue of Jill Downen's exhibition at Bruno David Gallery. Essay by Kim Humphries. (Softcover, April 2006...