Qcc Artist Directory

Extreme artistry in the shadow of Ute Mountain


About the Art

“This place is so beautiful it can make you weep,” Jilli says. “It is also gritty with high wind and dust devils swirling around, extremely cold in the winter – many nights well below zero. It is a place of contradictions and extremes. Low lying bands of clouds that have Ute Mountain floating in the north sky… So, my work is of this place – it’s not delicate – it is rough-hewn and raw. I want the truth of the materials exposed – their intrinsic beauty and imperfection.”

“Design, whether it be architecture or silversmithing is most simply, desire + problem solving,” the artist says. “I want to make a bracelet. I have this old leather strapping, beautiful piece of turquoise, silver, and a wrist – each of those things has parameters or limits that direct the process.”

Most days begin for Jilli with a hike down into the gorge as a reminder of just what is lying beneath her feet as she stands in the studio. This winter she returned to painting – using that medium to explore the rock walls of the Rio Grande Gorge and distill the kind of rock, how it was formed, what its essential qualities are and how it has been impacted by this environment over time. You are welcome to visit her instagram @latirforge, @of.dorothea and @utemountainstudios for a preview of her studio tour work.


Jilli finds her inspiration and peace in nature. The high desert has been her lifelong domain, first in CO, now in NM. Her current studio is at 7600’ in Sunshine Valley, at the foot of Ute Mountain and bordered to the east and west by the Sangre de Cristo Range and the Rio Grande Gorge. This landscape informs and gives shape to all of her work.

Other influences were study in Environmental Systems – geology, hydrology, biology and in Architecture where 3-dimensional composition, texture, surface, light and a better understanding of the human body in space were investigated. Architectural study also introduced the concepts of chaos and complexity theory and fractal geometries – which, to Jilli, essentially illustrate that we (human beings and all of nature) are intricately connected across time and space. Those connections hold her interest as an artist and maker.

Residency Program: Ute Mountain Studios is the Questa Art Tour’s northernmost stop. Jilli’s studio is here along with a residency program offered to young women artists. Thus far, Lynnette Haozous (@lhaozous), April Holder (@aeon_fluxus), Madeline Miller and Jai Schmidt (@strangebrainz) have each had a residency here for about a year’s time.

The intention is to provide artists relief from the expense of housing and studio space so they can focus on their work in a safe and inspiring place for an extended period of time. The artists direct their own work and experience while Jilli offers what resources and support she can at their request. Please email Jilli at jmkamas@gmail with inquiries about this program.


Jill Kamas
PO Box 79,
Questa NM 87556

Other Local Artists

Writer Ellen Wood paints under her father’s middle name: Maruška.
Wild pigments and found objects make transformative works.