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Three Dimensional Sketchbook: Jill Downen
January 18, 2013 - March 2, 2013
Plug Projects’ newest exhibition Three Dimensional Sketchbook introduces Kansas City to the work of Jill Downen and the intimate process she uses to plan large-scale installations. This exhibition presents maquettes that investigate the relationships between the human body and the architectural structures we occupy. These works use a vocabulary of sensual forms reminiscent of abstracted bodily parts. Sculptural objects make points of comparison between bodies and buildings by identifying parallel natures between human anatomy and skeleton and skin structural systems used in architecture. The thematic possibilities of construction, deterioration and restoration become concerns for our bodies and where we reside.
The exhibition offers a peek into the artist’s process, as well as an opportunity to survey her work from a new and unexpected perspective. Viewers will encounter a long table and cabinet of drawers displaying models crafted from plaster and basswood. The small scale of these sculptures reverses the experience that viewers generally have with Downen’s monumental installations. The inverted scale and assembly of the maquettes as a singular tablescape/cityscape cause a reconsideration of the forms in relationship to each other, the body and to Downen’s art making practice overall.
Jill Downen is a 2010 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow and has received a 2009 MacDowell Colony National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship with additional support from Leon Levy Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She was awarded a Cité International des Arts Residency (2007) in Paris and 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 extensively lectured about her work and contemporary art at venues including the 2007 Luce Irigaray Circle Conference on philosophy in New York and the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. Louis. She holds a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA as a Danforth Scholar from Washington University. Downen is an Assistant Professor of Sculpture at the Kansas City Art Institute and is represented by the Bruno David Gallery in St. Louis.