photo by Harper Speagle-Price

Artist of the Month: Jill Friedberg

Written by Jackie Dishner Category: Arts Issue: December 2018
Group Free
Pin It

Jill Friedberg uses unusual materials to craft her unique artwork.

Rattlesnake skin, laundry lint and clumps of dried paint are on the short list of quirky things visual artist Jill Friedberg paints with at her studio at her North Scottsdale home.

“As a little girl, I collected things. I’ve returned to that concept as an adult, but in a different way,” says the Chicago-raised artist, who creates life-size sculptural torsos out of bathrobes and vintage coats and makes large-scale mixed-media paintings.

Her secret to using such unique art materials? “I paint into them,” she says. Whether it’s a land of birds and jellyfish or a scene combining people from different cultures and different lands, Friedberg merges layer upon layer of photographs from her travels with pencil shavings, feathers and other repurposed materials and then paints more of her story into the narrative on canvas.

Friedberg’s latest series – created with acrylics and informed by her fascination with color and those quirky objects – is a 26-piece, year-long project called Fantasy for a Noble Universe, an expression of hope for the current chaotic world. Inspired by travel, President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall, world cultures and environmental concerns, one of her paintings in the series, “Crossing,” was featured this past summer at Tucson Museum of Art’s Arizona Biennial 2018.

Friedberg, who started painting in the 1980s, was a speech therapist before she took on art as a full-time career. She studied art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

A solo exhibition of Friedberg’s work opens for Downtown Phoenix’s First Friday event on December 7 at Herberger Theater Center Art Gallery. Find more of her work at jillfriedberg.com.