Iowa-based artist, advocate and mentor, Jill Wells (she/her) has firmly situated herself within art and advocacy work. A 2005 graduate of Drake University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, she is well known for her dynamic, colorful, and tactile multimedia works investigating race, history, stereotypes, accessibility, and human experiences. By exploring the powerful alignment between arts integration and Universal Design, Wells' work seeks solutions for innovative pathways into accessible art.
"My art practice has always been the pathway that allows me to live life without regret by doing something about the problems that trouble me. My work explores intersectional social issues of racism, unequal opportunity, disability discrimination, and inaccessible design, and seeks solutions in and through art. In creating, I can experience clarity and access the past and the present to increase the quality of life for others, leading to better social integration for others and myself now and into the future."
"I make paintings, murals, immersive/interactive installations incorporating sound and light, and tactile/touch-based art, to prompt dialogue around diversity, accessibility, and unity. I choose to make art that is itself more accessible to marginalized audiences by its physical composition; its placement in skywalk systems, public schools, and on city buildings;, and by narratives of inclusivity and collaboration. My artistic representations of marginalized cultures, populations, and communities are, within themselves, acts of resistance against systems of oppression. Through my practice as an artist, advocate, and mentor, I aspire to dismantle these systems by elevating the power of accessibility through art and exhibiting the social changes that occur as a result."
In her practice, Wells engages with individuals of all abilities, through various interdisciplinary art workshops and talks to create new modes of working through the arts, that is truly inclusive and representational. Jill Wells has created public art, exhibitions, and cultural programs for the last 20 years. She is currently a Harkin Institute Fellow, who is the first artist chosen to be a fellow in the organization’s history. Wells will be conducting research and programing focused on accessibility in art, breaking from the mold of what fellows have done in the past and leading discourse about accessibility from a new perspective.