About Jillian Sandell
I am an educator and artist living in Joshua Tree, California. Inspired by Lynda Barry’s guiding principle of “being present and seeing what’s there,” I first started drawing during a health crisis in 2016. I was then 50 and had no formal training as an artist, but those early rough sketches turned into an ongoing art practice that both responds to my immediate environment and is now key to how I experience the world.
My pen and ink drawings highlight and transform small details of the natural environment into abstract compositions to capture the vulnerability and resilience of the desert. Meanwhile, my zines about cancer treatment, living in the desert, and the minutiae of everyday life combine hand-drawn cartoons, narrative, and abstract images, and have been displayed and sold at numerous events. Most recently, I have created a series of risograph prints that utilize the layering of risograph ink to complement my layered drawings about the desert.
I am an active participant in the local art community, including as an advisory board member for “Artists’ Tea” (a program of JTNPCA) and a member of the Morongo Basin Arts Council and San Bernardino Arts Connection. My work has appeared in group shows at Gallery 62 and The Beatnik Lounge, and as a featured artist as part of Art in Public Places program at the Inn at 29 Palms, Naturalives Day Spa, and Joshua Tree Library.
Before moving to Joshua Tree I was professor of Women and Gender Studies at SFSU, where I taught classes on media studies, feminist cultural activism, community engagement, and feminist theory and methods. My research on the various meanings embedded in cultural artifacts (and the different political stakes of those meanings) has found expression in my art, which often focuses on the multiple (and even hidden) histories and meanings in any given object, experience, or landscape.