Ziccardi’s work is influenced by nature and symbolism, domesticity, satire and American slang language that calls attention to our own absurd and harmful associations about being “female” and “male”.
Her work takes inspiration from a seemingly unremarkable 20 second experience as a young woman. One day, she stepped into an elevator full of men and one of them was discussing his affections for a woman he enthusiastically referred to as a “hot little tomato!” The image of a sexy woman as a tomato amused her, offended her and ignited her sassy sense of humor. This chance encounter opened up a Pandora’s box of ideas that she is still executing today… and likely indefinitely…
Ziccardi’s arsenal of images are commonly known and quite varied (Chick, Skirt, Bombshell, Prick, Nuts, Bunny, Tail, etc…) and are “reappropriated” from slang language and reclaimed as the artist’s own. She chooses a specific fabric for the “protagonist” of each painting, creating a connection between her materials, her process and her purpose. In addition, she manipulates the fabric by painting out parts of the pattern, and by using stamps that add her own playful motifs to the canvas. Ziccardi’s paintings continue to the outside edge of the frame, which are ornamented with objects that tease the protagonist, often posed amidst a lush, imagined habitat or domestic interior. Mocking past and present stereotypes with humor and irony, Ziccardi’s images expose the disconnect between the sexes, and the bias that is embedded in our common language and in our psyche.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Jill Ziccardi was born and raised on Long Island (New York) in a traditional Italian working class family, and got-hooked on art as a teenager. She pursued an academic curriculum as a high school student but often struggled; art was an arena where she felt comfortable and successful.
After earning a BFA in Art (with honors) from Carnegie Mellon University and a MFA in Painting with a full-tuition merit scholarship awarded from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Ziccardi remained in Chicago and began exhibiting her work.
At age 26, she secured her first teaching job as a painting professor. She taught college students for the next 8 years in studio and classroom settings, focusing on a curriculum that explored the responsibility of the artist in society, an important subject for her. This led her out of academia and into underserved communities, using art as a vehicle to build relationships, visual literacy and community with low-income youth and families. Later, these experiences would steer her to leadership positions at Free Arts NYC and other non-profit arts organizations.
In 2001, the artist returned to her native New York, and lived in Red Hook, Brooklyn until buying a house in Highland in 2010 where she and her partner now live and work. Ziccardi has maintained an active studio practice for over 40 years and continues to show her work locally and nationally. Her paintings can be seen in a number of private and museum collections across the United States.
© Jill Ziccardi