Jill Hakala, artist, painter, and alumna of MSU’s Department of Art, Art History, and Design, has taken a unique and creative approach to art through her 365 projects, a series of original works created by Hakala for each day of the year.
“I have had a passion for art ever since I could hold a crayon,” said Hakala, who earned an M.F.A. in Studio Art from Michigan State University in 2013.
Hakala joined Hardy and Nance Studios in May 2017, where she began her Inktober project a year later. Described by Hakala as an “art challenge,” Inktober consists of ink-based pieces of art created by Hakala for each day in October.
“Using ink and some word prompts to complete that project was so enjoyable to me that I wanted to give myself some similar guidelines for a yearlong project,” Hakala said. “So, I decided that each piece would be 5”x 7” in size and that they would all be connected to each other.”
Hakala then began A Year on Paper, her first 365 project, in 2019, which consists of individual pieces connected to create a final display that spans 152 feet and was displayed across the entire Hardy and Nance Studio.
We Are Stardust was Hakala’s collaborative work with artist Heather Gordy that combined Hakala’s astrophotography with Gordy’s vintage anatomical illustrations.
“My artwork is inspired mostly by people. How we think, how our bodies work, how we communicate our thoughts to each other,” Hakala said. “You’ll see anatomy in my work, which is also inspired by my mom, who was a nurse, and my grandpa, who was a doctor.”
My artwork is inspired mostly by people. How we think, how our bodies work, how we communicate our thoughts to each other.
The collaboration with Gordy inspired Hakala to use new skills with her next 365 project, A Year of Birds, which follows the same structure as A Year on Paper but is composed of digital prints and embroidery work.
All these unique works originated in Hakala’s Installation class at MSU. Associate Professor of Sculpture Laura Cloud taught the course and organized several projects that had minimal instruction or restriction.
“You had to incorporate a tool or another piece into your artwork,” Hakala said. “For instance, we used a cutout of a comic about Dolly the Sheep. We then had to think about using these to inspire an artwork. I highly enjoyed the limitation because it still gave a wide range of possibilities.”
This same inspiration was fostered in the advanced painting courses Hakala took at MSU, where she had her own studio art space and several peers to discuss ideas with. This environment, Hakala said, “was very stimulating and drove me to get into an art studio as soon as I could.”
MSU offered a more rounded experience for me. I had the opportunity to take classes in disciplines that I probably wouldn’t have had the chance to take if I had gone to a more art-based university.
“MSU offered a more rounded experience for me. I had the opportunity to take classes in disciplines that I probably wouldn’t have had the chance to take if I had gone to a more art-based university,” Hakala said. “MSU gave me the opportunity to learn about other subjects that play heavily into some of my focuses as an artist.”
Hakala credits the following faculty members at MSU with helping her hone her craft and better express her ideas: Associate Professor of Painting Teresa Dunn, Professor of Printmaking d’Ann de Simone, and Michelle Word, Director of Education at the MSU Broad Museum and former College of Arts & Letters faculty member.
“Each of these professors,” Hakala said, “gave so much of their time and resources, talking out ideas that were floating around in my head, and gave me different avenues to take to bring them to life.”