Jill Lynne Ness
Jill Lynne Ness found her way into the art world by a dare. She had always had a creative streak, but this Minnesota native moved to Boston to pursue a career in writing. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing at Emerson College as well as the Dean's Award for her thesis, Acquainted with the Night, a memoir on her experience with severe depression (See worldcat.org/title/acquainted-with-the-night-a-memoir/oclc/30468088). Despite numerous literary awards and a year's contract with Mary Jack Wald, a literary agent based in New York, to represent her young adult novel, Boundary Waters, Jill's writing career just wasn't taking off. Her agent ended the contract after a year, having had many positive responses to Jill's YA novel, but no "takes." A failed marriage, back surgery and physical disability took their toll, and at age 34 Jill headed back to Minnesota, her four-year-old daughter in tow. Jill's health was so bad at the time that she arrived at the airport in a wheelchair. She and her daughter lived with Jill's parents for a year, and eventually found their own place. There, a worker from RISE observed Jill's well-read stack of magazines on mixed media art, as well as the creativity and sense of excitement that flowed from her as she explored art materials with her young daughter. Her disability and struggle with depression and anxiety seemed to fade into the background during these times. He urged Jill to break up her weekly routine of doctor appointments with a visit to an art group. She resisted, so finally he dared her, and that's all it took. Jill's artwork started selling the very first year (2009) she started creating. She has earned awards for both her art and her writing, and even has a few collectors of her paintings and mixed media, which tend to incorporate her love of words, bright colors and tactile texture. Jill's first solo exhibit, featuring her tactile mixed media work, was on display during spring of 2013 at Vision Loss Resources in Minneapolis, where she urged clients to break "art taboo" and physically touch her artwork. VSA MN provided Jill's artist statement and description of each of the works in Braille for the visually impaired. A sign on the wall read, "Please feel free to touch the artwork!" In December 2013, shel was awarded one of seven VSA Minnesota/Jerome Foundation Emerging Artist Grants (http://www.vsamn.org/new.html#grantinfo5).In 2017, she was selected as one of 24 artists to work in collaboration with 24 writers for St. Paul Almanac's "Impressions" project, which featured artwork and poetry on bus shelters, trains and buses in St. Paul's transit system. Currently, Jill attends an art group regularly at Bridgeview CSP in Fridley, where she also leads a creative writing workshop, Bridgeview Writing Circle.
Jill Lynne Ness is always trying out new art forms and media, but she primarily known for her intense, bold watercolors, which often incorporate her love of words. She "fell into art" by way of a dare in 2009, and soon became intrigued with this new way of expressing her creativity, which she formerly thought one had to be trained for. Her new motto is: "First rule: there are no rules. Second rule: if someone says there are rules, the challenge is how to break them in an effective way." Her favorite artist tools are her own fingers, which can usually be found coated in paint and/or glue. Jill's formal education is in creative writing (M.F.A., Emerson College, 1994); as a visual artist she is primarily self-taught. She attends an artist group 2-3 times a week at Bridgeview in Fridley, MN, a community support center for adults with mental illness, where, as a member, she also started and peer facilitates a creative writing group. She claims her best art comes through "play" and the willingness to make mistakes, which often turn into "welcome accidents." An avid reader, Jill is inspired by literature and quotations as well as nature and the work of other artists, including children. Her favorite artist quote is: "Every child is an artist. The challenge is how to remain an artist once you grow up." ~Pablo Picasso