Bruno David Gallery is showing “Speak Truth”, an exhibition of new sculptures by Jill Downen. What does truth look like? Jill Downen’s new work engages global exchange by activating the complex ways we perceive objective and subjective truths. The exhibition invites visitors into a series of encounters with spoken word, text, and linear movements in space that twist, flex, tangle, and split into multiple pathways. The “Speak Truth” works range in scale and materiality, and include: handmade books, sculptural objects, installations, works on paper, plaster, concrete, steel, gold leaf, pyrite (fool’s gold), and lapis lazuli stone. The exhibition features audio recordings by international project participants that have been translated into visual forms; the artworks reveal patterns of meaning in value systems such as identity, family, and the importance of voice. The art responds to private and public space as it shifts scale from the intimate to the monumental. Downen’s “Speak Truth” series seeks to anchor, measure, and orient as communities collectively navigate a disinformation age.
Jill Downen’s art practice is a focused investigation of the symbiotic relationship between sculpture, the human body and architecture. Her art envisions a place of interdependent relation between the human body and the built environment, where the exchanging forces and tensions of construction, deterioration, and restoration emerge as thematic possibilities. Downen believes that the body is the primary vehicle for understanding the world, and she offers viewers immersive sculptural environments that engage the senses and ways of knowing that are often private and experiential.
Jill Downen is the recipient of numerous awards including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, Stone and DeGuire Contemporary Art Award, and Charlotte Street Foundation Visual Artists Award. Residencies include MASS MoCA, MacDowell Colony National Endowment for the Arts residency, Proyecto áce, and Cité International des Arts residency in Paris. Her work was recently featured in “State of the Art 2020” at The Momentary/Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and is currently exhibiting in the “Terrain Biennial” in Toronto, ON, Canada. She has created site specific installations for museums such as American University Museum in Washington DC, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis Great Rivers Biennial and its 10th Anniversary exhibition, “Place is the Space”. Her art has been reviewed in publications including Art in America, Sculpture Magazine, Art Papers, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The New York Times, and Bad at Sports. She holds a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA from Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts - Washington University in St. Louis. Jill Downen is an associate professor and Chair of sculpture at the Kansas City Art Institute. She lives and works in Kansas City, MO.