The exhibition will be on view through the end of November 2014.
Local Artist Profile: Jillian Piccirilli
1. Can you share with our readers a bit about the concept and history behind your Robinwood collection?
Robinwood is an ode to my grandparents’ home in the wake of their deaths and its sale. My own life has been marked by a degree of transience, and their handmade home had been a constant for me. Inspired by blueprints lifted from the December 1946 issue of Better Homes & Gardens, Robinwood was the house that Mae, an amateur photographer, and Jim, a carpenter, built together with sweat, luck, and modest means on northern Michigan cow pasture land; and it was the locus of their lives for sixty years. My Robinwood series echoes their blueprint source through the alternative cyanotype printing process and reflects how they made this template their own with the added warm color layers of gum bichromate printing and hand painting. Creating the series was an effort to both keep the home and also share it.
2. How were these pieces made?
The full Robinwood series is made up of 41 works that chronicle the homestead inside and out. My source material is a combination of photographs that I took, photographs that my grandmother took (she was an amateur photographer who kept a full darkroom in an upstairs closet), as well as snapshots by other family members from our archives. Each piece was first printed as a cyanotype, aka a “sun print” / “blue print,” on the roof outside my West Oakland studio. After the cyanotype was fully developed, I then added a gum bichromate layer, which uses watercolor pigment for the color and the sun again for exposure. Then I hand painted and mounted each image onto a wooden panel. The gum bichromate and hand work was all color coded according to which part of the house the image depicted.
3. How can artwork alter a space?
Art gives a space character and personality. It says something about not only about the occupants’ aesthetics, but their past and their values: Where have they been? Who have they loved? What have they lost? And having the work of a living artist speaks to a support of the visual arts as part of our contemporary culture. From screen prints to oil paintings, there is an staggering diversity of work and price points available in the Bay Area by artists at all career points.
4. How do you select artwork for your own home?
The artwork in our home tends to be rather personal tokens and momentos, alongside works that make us think and make us laugh. In our little kitchen is a teapot print we got while on our honeymoon in Ireland. There are a couple of concert posters that we bought from the amazing publishing house Drawn and Quarterly during a trip to Montreal. There is a tiny nest painting by a friend and colleague. There is a prized photograph of my great aunt (who was the first in the family to attend college) shaking hands with LBJ when she was a part of his administration. We recently moved, and it has been interesting to reflect upon how the art we surround ourselves with has changed over the years as our lives, tastes, and values have evolved. There is one or two token holdovers from the college dorm days; but, for the most part, our artwork selections have grown and matured along with us.