Jill Jichetti: Curating an interdisciplinary art practice both online and off

By Amanda Calvin, Snug Harbor Arts Intern (Spring 2021)   

“I make art wherever I am.”

Jill Jichetti is the perfect example of a multidisciplinary artist. Hailing from Brooklyn, the current Staten Island resident is presenting a collection of her work, “JillWrites: On Art & Poetics,” at the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art at Snug Harbor this spring. From playwriting, to teaching, to online content, to photography, Jichetti is committed to integrating different art forms and curating her extensive portfolio into exciting, dynamic presentations, and encouraging others to do the same.

“Writing theatre was my first discipline. I always did performance and I like acting, but writing was my first discipline,” said Jichetti. “We got home computers when I was 10; I started writing a little family newspaper and I never stopped.”

Carrying her passion into college, Jichetti graduated from New York University with a BA in dramatic theatre. During her time at school, she was able to explore creative writing and Italian language studies because of the liberal arts nature of the program. This inspired Jichetti’s decision to turn down a spot at NYU’s theatre conservatory upon applying for graduate programs. “I felt like I was about to make a big commitment to theatre, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to produce theatre the whole time in order to write theatre,” she said, explaining her choice to enroll in an interdisciplinary master’s program instead. “Knowing different parts of material in the world was more of what I wanted to do.”

Soon incorporating multiple disciplines into her art practice, Jichetti began writing an online blog and took up photography after graduating. Consisting of fiction, nonfiction, New York adventures, and social scene writing, Jichetti discovered a newfound passion for Internet art and content creation, ultimately incorporating multiple social media accounts in her practice.

Continuing her passion for writing for theatre, Jichetti also wrote criticism for Off-Off-Online and founded Lifeblood Theatre Company, for which she wrote and directed for as well.

To share her love of the arts, Jichetti has taught English and performing arts at Berkeley College and The College of Staten Island.

In her late 30s, Jichetti decided to return to grad school, this time studying writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, furthering her interdisciplinary art studies. “I’m proud of it, it’s pretty competitive and prestigious. I really enjoyed it,” she said.

“It’s not the regular MFA in writing where it’s all writing workshops. You can across the board develop what you’re doing with writing; it doesn’t have to be written on paper even, it can be on gallery walls, an art form, conceptual writing, all sorts of things — I was drawn to do that.”

In Chicago is where Jichetti developed an exhibit that showcased her personal style in all disciplines. “I did an installation that was trying to take writing and writing I did on the internet and photography and photography I did on the internet and put it all in the same gallery exhibit,” she said. “I include writing on the walls of the installation, which creates a commentary around it. I try to utilize at-home office materials as much as possible, it’s like a messy, fun bulletin board.”

“JillWrites: On Art & Poetics” at the Newhouse Center contains parts of this installation; the exhibit consists of three recreated concepts from Jichetti’s work from the last 15 years and one entirely new concept.

Jichetti is no stranger to the Newhouse Center and Snug Harbor. In 2010, she presented  “Through The Subway Window: Bergen Street” as part of “Noise Carousel,” a group sound installation curated by Patrick Grenier. Additionally, she has worked for the Performing Arts department at Snug Harbor and has produced plays on site.

Jichetti has been looking forward to her return to the Newhouse Center. “The venue is beautiful,” she said. “I’m excited — I love it so much whenever art forms integrate.”

Regarding the reception of “JillWrites…” and her work overall, Jichetti hopes to convey a message of accessibility and excitement to her audience. “I like the idea of my installation art being fun. My installations are accessible and jovial,” she said. “For photography, I want people to think that they can do it, that it’s fun and that they can take the art form seriously — people should be allowed to do fun self portrait stuff.”

“For writing, I want people to respect that people take it seriously; people put effort into even bulletin board notes,” said Jichetti. “I want people to enjoy the idea that all of these things can be taken seriously and that you can become a curator of your own work — that’s how my installations come together.”

To bring a sense of joy to her installations, Jichetti treats the gallery as a “party.” “A lot of people give me fun feedback,” she said. “People curate parties — playlists, fashions and social scenes — I want to bring that to the gallery.”

Throughout the pandemic, Jichetti has kept in mind the importance of art. “The history of people performing is universal and we do that for a variety of reasons — one of those is helping our communities through darker times. We have to bring the science in and let it help us so we can survive in this healthier fashion, but then keeping each other company is also important — because it’s scary.”

“In this current art time we’re having, we see a lot of people practicing in different disciplines,” said Jichetti, stressing the importance of taking the arts and artists seriously. “I always liked encouraging people to have their own creativity.”

“You can be a curator of your own work.”

To learn more about Jill’s work, visit http://www.jillwrites.com/.

“JillWrites: On Art & Poetics” runs at The Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art in Gallery G, galleries 1 & 2 until July 25.

For more information about visiting Snug Harbor, visit https://snug-harbor.org/visit/directions/ .