United States of America

Jill Downen
Together Apart: #Frontier

10.02.21 03.03.21

Jill Downen is an American artist based in Kansas City.

Her art practice investigates the symbiotic relationship between sculpture, the human body and architecture 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. Her immersive sculptural environments engage the senses and ways of knowing that are often private and experiential.


Jill Downen’s work is framed by conceptual inquiry, research, material processes, a visual-spatial language developed over 20 years and her gender non-conformity. She activates space with a sculptural approach using concrete, plaster, lumber, metal, gold leaf and lapis lazuli stone.  She generates 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’s deep understanding of phenomenology, space, light and materiality informs the way that she sculpts the entire volume of a given space. A thematic metaphor in her 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 facts and subjective truths.


The frontier, for me, is a middle-ground place to exist as a non-binary thinker in a world full of polarities. I began the residency with a desire to seek out the dynamic energies that activate the frontier as a conceptual space where everything is in motion.  I explored the idea of binary-pull, a linear tension between two boundaries, which is released to reveal unexpected forces, rendering them visible.

Writing, reading, drawing and research informed by conversations within the cohort led my intuitive work. I focused on the use of a chalk plumb lines to make several videos. My work blended with the explorations of collaborators Trisha Gupta and Nora Jacobs. Together, we explored ideas of circular motion to escape boundaries, neuro-diversity represented through brain imagery, and connectivity by combining still and moving imagery. Our creative process was documented with text and image in a pdf format. The residency encounters enriched my research through collaboration, resources and dialogue.

Jill Downen
1967 Belleville, IL, USA
Lives and works in Kansas City

2001 | MFA Washington University in St.Louis
1989 | BFA Kansas City Art Institute

2020 | State of the Art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, USA
2018 | Arte Laguna Prize International Exhibition, painting, Arsenal of Venice, Italy
2011 | Jill Downen: Counterparts, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, USA
2007 | Corps et Bâtiment á Paris, Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, France
2004 | Posture of Place, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, USA

2019 | MASS MoCA, Assets for Artists, North Adams, Massachusetts, USA
2017 | Ragdale Foundation, Lake Forest, Illinois, USA
2009 | MacDowell Colony, National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, Peterborough, New Hampshire, USA
2007 | Cité Internationale des Arts, residency, Paris, France

2018 | Stone and DeGuire Contemporary Art Award
2016 | SANTO Foundation grant
2015 | Charlotte Street Foundation Visual Artist Fellowship
2010 | John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship

Represented by Bruno David Gallery St. Louis, USA

Related Activities

Exhibitions, Together Apart

#3 | FRONTIER: results
Artists in dialogue


Frontiers as geopolitical frontiers, as cultural, biopolitical; frontiers as limits and as separations within the artistic disciplines, frontiers as hegemonic considerations of our bodies and identities…were some of the approaches on FRONTIER general theme in the Together Apart Program #3 session. 

Through 4 encounters we collectively and individually created ideas and artworks which explored a non-binary approach of the topic. The participant artists also had the possibility to dialogue with Kristina Borg and Liz Ingram & Bernd Hildebrant, international artists and former ´ace artists-in-residence,  invited to present their contributions and explorations in relation to the topic. For this session we also gave priority to moments of peer review or collective feedback and to open discussions which drifted through issues of art and therapy, art and research, participatory art, the complexity of artistic collaboration and how collective practice appears to be a right to claim even more in moments of isolation.

Through different theoretical readings and artistic references, and through the proposals of each of the participant artists, we identified the importance of liminal states, the non-binary, we assumed the difficulty of inhabiting the in-between but also recognized that art practice is what allows us to live in ambiguous states and to constantly raise questions. We also explored other practices as breathing techniques, meditation and knowledge and skills sharing as methods to break through discriminative or isolating frontiers.

Using poetry, film, online performances, video art and the creation of a network for artists through the method of “participatory asset mapping”, the artists from this cohort created in search of commonalities in their migrant’s everyday experiences, resonances among the natural conditions of the places they live in, the links among their identities and psychological researches and in search of practical collaborations to continue working in the future.

DANIELA RUIZ MORENO | curator-in-residence

Artist-in-Residence International Program

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International Airport

Ministro Pistarini- Ezeiza (EZE)
Buenos Aires
45' to 60' trip

Domestic Airport

Aeroparque Jorge Newbery
Buenos Aires


38, 39, 41, 42, 59, 63, 65, 67, 68, 151, 152, 161, 184, 194 and 168 (stop in the front door)


D Line (Green)
Olleros Station (4 blocks, 4')


Mitre Line (either to Leon Suarez or Mitre)
Colegiales Station (1 block, 1')

The Latin America's Paris

Buenos Aires is Argentine Republic's capital city. With 15,000,000 inhabitants, it is one of the largest cities in Latin America and one of the 10 most populous urban centers in the world. Its cosmopolitan and urban character vibrates to the rhythm of a great cultural offer that includes monuments, churches, museums, art galleries, opera, music and theaters; squares, parks and gardens with old groves; characteristic neighborhoods; large shopping centers and fairs. Here we also find a very good lodging facilities, with accommodation ranging from hostels to five-star hotels of the main international chains. Buenos Aires also show off about its variety of restaurants with all the cuisines of the world, as well as to have cafes and flower kiosks on every corner.

A neighborhood founded on the Jesuit farms in the 17th century

We are located in Colegiales neighborhood where the tree-lined streets, some of which still have their original cobblestones, invite you to walk. Although the apartment buildings advance, low houses still predominate. It is a district of the city where about 20 TV production companies, design studios, artist workshops and the Rock&Pop radio have been located. The neighborhood also has six squares, one of which pays homage to Mafalda, the Flea Market, shops, restaurants and cafes like its neighboring Barrios de Palermo and Belgrano, with which it limits.

Artist-in-Residence International Program

2024 Open Call #3
Residencies 2024

July 31st, 2024

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