Jill Casty’s words are insightful, mindful, smart, and passionate. Annie & Gretchen were fascinated by her.
For about a decade Jill Casty has alternated years of living and working in Italy, Mexico, and California. In recent years she has focused on unique sculptures with ensembles of brilliant, colorful fused glass and various metals. In the United States, in an earlier stage of her career, she created large-scale works for public places—monumental sculptures, as high as 30 feet, and extensive series of “mobiles” and other forms of aerial art that provided identity and celebration in cities and in public and commercial buildings and centers throughout California and in the states of Washington, Oregon, Texas, and Missouri.
Working again in California, she now explores new ventures in both the public and personal art worlds.
Please tell us how you started your career in sculpture and glass.
I reached my career in doing sculptures in glass through a rather circuitous route. I began working as a book designer graduating from textbooks to children’s books to art books. Then worked in commercial art, did some trade booth design and advertising, and got attached to the shopping center market. There I was invited to create a physical work for a shopping center in Sacramento, Florin Mall. I made a mobile that filled a 24’ square skylight in the center court plus two smaller mobiles for two side courts. Then there were monumental sculptures for commercial and civic sites and several series of aerial art for various shopping centers. About 14 years ago my husband and I decided to try living abroad and my interest in glass art was re-kindled. I began to do this more personal kind of art during our first year in Italy and have been doing it ever since.
Do you have a favorite work?
As someone has said, My latest is my Favorite. But in general, my favorites are tied to capturing the natural world and my abstract impressions of it. One of the early large pieces I made for a particular show in Pisa is definitely among my favorites. Keeping a Delicate Balance. A large abstract standing piece. Another made in Mexico having been inspired by the light and color and atmosphere is Sunlight on the Baja Shore. This is a wall piece. Then the folk pieces inspired by the folk arts I saw there.
One Fine Day and A Glimpse of Paradise. And now, the new free-standing pieces in the series I’m presently working on. You can see them all on my newly updated website: www.JillCastyGlassArt.com
You have lived in many wonderful places including Italy and Mexico. Where is your favorite place to live?
I loved living in Italy and hope I can get back for a visit soon. I loved, and still love, the culture, the landscape, the people, all the wonderful friends we made, the way of life. I loved the creative energy I felt and all the wonderful work I did while living there. It provided a stimulus for me not only to work with a full responsiveness, but to try to live that way too.
Have you noticed any differences in how the different countries you have lived in treat and take care of people over 50?
In both Italy and Mexico, where I have also lived, people over 50 are a much more integral part of everyday living. The continuing closeness of generations of family may sometimes be a matter of economics, but it is so much more a fruitful matter of culture. In Italy particularly there is also a more organized government-involved system of living facilities for the elderly. I find there, and here too I think, that if you are a fully engaged person – interested in politics, life, art, culture, etc., – people tend to engage with you as if you are not “of a certain age.”
How do you plan to age enthusiastically?
I want to live (I think of it as living rather than aging) not just enthusiastically, but actively, creatively – continuing my same kind of work, and work ethic, in my art, making glass sculpture. I work regularly, fully involved, loving my wonderful glass and my engagement with it. The energy and love generated in my working in turn produces greater physical, emotional, and intellectual energy now as it always has.
Thank you, Jill, for sharing your magical art and your colorful life. To learn more about Jill Casty, go to her website: www.JillCastyGlassArt.com and follow Jill on Instagram @jillcasty