Jill Foote-Hutton – Red Lodge Clay Center

Jill Foote-HuttonKansas City, Missouri

Red Lodge Clay Center – Staff 2010 – 2014, Short-Term Resident (AIA) 2019

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: editor of Studio Potter throughout the tumult of the 2020 pandemic and the cultural reckoning that erupted due to centuries of inequities and murder; coordinator of artist services and storytelling at Northern Clay Center where she managed fellowships, grants, and artists’ residencies, distributing opportunities and resources to ceramics artist from around the nation and the world; curator of exhibitions at Red Lodge Clay Center where she focused on showcasing artists on the perimeter alongside the usual susupects; gallery director and lead faculty for seven years at East Central College in Union, Missouri, where her efforts laid a foundation for NASAD accreditation. Her MFA was earned at the University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS, in 2003, and her BFA was earned at Webster University, St. Louis, MO, 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. As of October 2022, she returned to her studio practice full-time in Kansas City, Missouri.

At Whistlepig Studio Guardian Monsters are the physical embodiment of empathy for human frailties. The literary history of monster makes them the perfect vehicle to coax new stories from contemporary hearts and imaginations. It also aligns perfectly with the philosophies embedded in addiction recovery. Stop pushing secrets and shame into the shadows where they grow teeth and fang to torment you. In the shadows one must pour some substance over the growing monster (pain, shame, fear) to quiet it.

Welcome House, located in Kansas City, Missouri, is a nationally recognized model with a residential sober living recovery program that empowers recovering men to live meaningful and productive lives. For three years they have welcomed me into their community. The first and third Saturday of the month, a small group of men join me to create Guardian Monsters of their own.

Art provides an opportunity for low-consequence, autonomous decision making. Working together at a table, engaged in personal exploration (excavation) provides an opportunity for us to love each other and ourselves, wholly accepting who we are in that moment and where we are on our journey. The resultant objects become reminders to stay the course, testaments to a joyful memory, affirmation of our creative power. We have the power to make something from nothing and that knowledge can ameliorate despair.

Monster is a subjective term – a term that has the ability to provide polarizing clarity within a narrative. A monster is honest in its single-mindedness, as well as its inability to hide faults. In our workshops we embrace our frailties, pull them into the light, and then bear witness to the magic: fear becomes strength.

Monster resides at some strata in everyone’s story. Monster persists as a concept because it is universal. Even in various iterations, there are consistencies, and I believe, by shining a light into the shadow of ourselves, welcoming our monster to sit next to us as an ally, we step closer to the hero within ourselves. They are two sides of the same coin:  the light and the dark.