Jill Foote-Hutton ( she/her )

Artist Statement

At Whistlepig Studio, where Jill Foote-Hutton is the sole proprietor, fantastical creatures embody empathy for our own human frailties. Their names are manifold: Guardian Monster, Swefn, Civilized Wildlings. Each body of work is rooted in the literary history of monster. They universally reflect the darkest realms of the subconscious collective, but they don’t stay in the shadows. I refer to my creations as monsters, because monsters are honest in their single-mindedness, as well as their inability to hide faults. 

This honesty, this monster, resides at some strata in everyone's story. By shining a light into the shadow of ourselves, welcoming the monster to sit next to us as an ally, we step closer to the hero within ourselves, as they are two sides of the same coin:  the light and the dark. 

Humble earthenware, discarded and found objects, as well as comics are the material elements at play in each object. Once the three-dimensional work is completed, next follows digital collage and verbal language in the form of flash fiction zines. Brought together the visual and verbal tell common, sometimes non-sensical tales of the lives led by each Guardian Monster, each Swefn, and each Civilzed Wildling.

Guardian Monsters seize the power of those objects and beings from an authoritarian state of mind and put that power back into the hearts and minds of the individual. Guardian Monsters are my shibboleth, they drive the darkness away, and they hold the individual accountable to their highest self. Guardian Monsters are objects that carry stories we imbue them with. They are tools of empowerment and reflection. YOU get to name your belief. YOU get to carve your road to enlightenment. The Guardian Monsters are just an interpretation of the talisman, the totem, the god, the demon, the angel, the witch, the hero…the spirit, and I’m proud to explore this rich, historical vein.

Civilized Wildlings are a collection of vessels informed by art nouveau pottery made in Bohemia at the turn of the century by Eduard Stellmacher and Paul Daschel. The forms were harmonious curves crawling with creatures from the forest with thick details and opulent glazes.

The flora and fauna crawling over and growing around the forms are decidedly more anthropomorphized, sometimes comically so. Working in layers, both formally and conceptually, the creatures are portrayed wearing Victorian accoutrements – an allusion to the historic habit of conquering classes around the world to tame and civilize that which has been deemed wild. The effect is darkly comical, demonstrating how ludicrous the narrow margins of establishment are.

Swefn (pronounced swē̆ven) is a word rooted in Old English defined as, “a dream experienced in sleep; a dream-vision, prophetic dream; also, a supernatural vision appearing to one in a waking state.” Swefn are larger than Guardian Monsters, a growing tribe. This is the newest body of work from Whistlepig Studio, and as such, their story is still evolving. But don’t worry, they still have plenty of tales to relate.

Bio

Born and raised by the descendants of hillbillies, Jill Foote-Hutton is an artist following in the tradition of medicine woman and storyteller through her creative practice dubbed Whistlepig Studio. She has earned a living as a teacher, curator, writer, artists, and arts administrator since 2003. She has been graced with the opportunities to travel to Greece, Denmark, China, Japan, and glorious locales within the United States in the name of contemporary craft.  Specifically, she was the editor for Studio Potter, a non-profit periodical, centered in studio practice, promotingdiscussion of technology, criticism, aesthetics, and history within the ceramics community from 2020-2022. She was the Coordinator of Artist Services and Storytelling at Northern Clay Center where she managed fellowships, grants, and artists’ residencies. She was Curator of Exhibitions at Red Lodge Clay Center in Red Lodge, Montana from 2010-14 and Gallery Director and lead faculty for seven years at East Central College in Union, Missouri. Her MFA was earned at the University of Mississippi in 2003, and her BFA was earned at Webster University in 1994.  Whether she is spinning her own tales, chronicling observations from the world of clay and the world at large, or facilitating others’ voices through word and form, she has always been committed to the craft of storytelling. Homebase is now Missouri where she was born. She works with men in addiction recovery by leading Guardian Monster workshops, providing the residents with creative, autonomous opportunities as part of their healing journey in addition to focusing on her other evolving bodies of work: Civilized Wildings and Swefn. You can learn more about her practice at Whistlepigtales.com