Jill Brugler has recently returned to the Verde Valley from a long hiatus in Nevada. She first became familiar with Northern Arizona as a college student at NAU, where she earned her BFA in ceramics while working with one of her strongest influences, Don Bendel. She completed her Master of Fine Arts and began teaching, making and selling ceramic art soon after.
“Anything I’ve ever visualized came true with clay.” Don Bendel encouraged Jill and taught her the importance of an instructor supporting their students and not taking your work too seriously.
Working on the Navajo reservation, she learned the importance of community in digging clay, learning and even becoming one of the many “auntie” teachers. The ultimate simplicity of native ceramics awed her. Her process evolved there from handbuilding to using the potters wheels – she laughs, now, at once being intimidated by the wheel. “Nothing at all to be afraid of!”
Today she counts many influences – Bendel, the aunties, Maria Martinez, Joan Miro and Picasso, just to name a few. She believes clay helped her develop relationships with people and hopes to help her students make their own unique works of art.