Jill Downen is an American artist who works in sculpture, drawing, and installation art. Their art challenges perceptions about the body, architecture, and post-truth culture. They are the recipient of numerous awards including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, the Stone and DeGuire Contemporary Art Award, the Charlotte Street Foundation Visual Artists Award and an international Santo Foundation grant. They have created site-specific installations for Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, The Oklahoma City Museum of Art, and American University Museum. Their outdoor sculpture, Architectural Folly from a Future Place, commissioned by Open Spaces: The Exhibition, was purchased by the Kemper Charitable Trust, gifted to Kansas City, and remains on permanent view in Swope Park. Jill Downen was featured in State of the Art 2020 at The Momentary/Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art as well as exhibitions in Toronto, Paris, and Venice. Critical reviews on Downen’s art have been published in Art in America, Sculpture, The Seen and Bad at Sports among others. Bruno David Gallery publications has produced numerous catalogues on Downen’s solo exhibitions with essays by renowned arts writers. Their residencies include MASS MoCA, the MacDowell Colony National Endowment for the Arts residency, and Cité International des Arts residency in Paris. Downen has lectured about their work extensively, including at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. and the Luce Irigaray Circle Philosophy Conference in New York. They hold a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute (painting/printmaking) and an MFA (sculpture) as a Danforth Scholar from the Sam Fox School at Washington University in St. Louis.

They maintain their studio practice in Kansas City, Kansas and are represented by Bruno David Gallery in St. Louis. Jill Downen’s art practice is a focused investigation of the symbiotic relationship between sculpture, the human body and architecture. Their art envisions a place of exchanging forces and tensions between construction, destruction, and restoration. Downen posits that the body is the primary vehicle for understanding the world through immersive sculptural environments that engage the senses and ways of knowing that are often private and experiential. Their practice is framed by conceptual inquiry, research, and a visual-spatial language honed over decades. Material processes employed by Downen activate space with a physical presence in concrete, plaster, lumber, metal, gold leaf and lapis lazuli stone. They produces work in a non-linear method, moving fluidly between drawing, sculpting, and model-making (both digital and physical) which culminate in site responsive installations. Downen generates work with a deep understanding of phenomenology, space, light and materiality; they sculpt the entire volume of a given space with sensitivity to ways of approaching and navigating transitions. An elemental theme in their work is the blue plumb line, a tool comprised of a weight on a string used by builders to erect walls in true vertical relation to a horizontal plane. The plumb line functions as a contemplative metaphor for truth, activating ways we perceive and understand objective and subjective truths.