Jill Watts


When did art become a pursuit for you?

According to my mother, my first words were “bu’eyes” about a doll with blue eyes. By kindergarten, I knew that I would be an artist and work with color. My mother encouraged me because of her own interest in art and the fact that it kept me quiet. There has always been a thread of art in my life, although at some times it is less obvious than at others. Art is my way of learning about the world and myself.

Are you self-taught or formally educated in visual art?

I am a graduate of the School of the Worcester Art Museum, with a BA from Clark University and an MA from the external degree program at Goddard College. At Goddard I explored alternative methods of teaching art to women and established an artists’ collective. I also researched and taught a course on the history of women artists at Boston Night Life. I have continued to take courses when possible, most recently in ceramic hand-building with Ginny Gillen at the Worcester Center for Crafts. Everything relies on my constant practice of simply making art.

How did you first become involved with ArtsWorcester?

I have been involved since 1987 when I first showed there. I can credit ArtsWorcester and their slide registry with generating my first show at the Atwood Gallery in Worcester in 1989. My involvement in the organization was a logical step, given my interest in connecting with other artists.

What medium do you currently work in, and how did you choose this medium?

I have made three-dimensional work since the 1960’s, almost always using color, assemblage or collage. Ceramics has allowed me to expand on this. In 2014 I enrolled in a ceramics class with Tom O’Malley via Worcester State University and I was hooked. Renting studio time at the Worcester Center for Crafts has provided me with a group of like-minded artists, space, and the materials to delve ever deeper into what is possible with clay. The medium dictates certain parameters, but also allows for much flexibility and even for chance to intervene. The process itself slows me down, often leading me to rethink and expand on my original concept.

What is your creative process?

My work arises out of my own concerns and need for clarification about events, the world, and a way forward. Much of what I do relates to dreams, the stories of others, and ideas that have impacted my life. There is a dialogue between my thoughts and the physical medium as I attempt to communicate my ideas to others. I change, the world changes — I would like to briefly capture this process, or note the traces of what has occurred, in my work.

How do you choose your subject matter? Are there themes that recur throughout your work?

My subject matter more often chooses me. A question will float into my consciousness and grab my attention. It is often based on current events, my meditation practice, or a need to celebrate others. Memory, movement, and change are recurrent themes.

What living artists are you inspired by?

John O’Reilly, because of his bravery and willingness to share the multiple layers of himself, and because of his kindness to others with no expectation of reward. Dale Chihuly, because of his colors and the fluidity of his glasswork.

What other media or directions would you like to explore?

I would like to become adept at video production in order to document happenings or events, including the actions of others within a given framework. A current project now in the planning stage involves leaving small sculptures in the community to be found, and possibly taken, by others who like them.


Inner Landscape Made Of Memories, raku fired ceramics, cloth, acrylic paint, glue, and plaster, 34″ x 24″ x 15″