Jill Thayer was born in Sacramento, California. She expressed an early interest in the visual arts and began taking lessons in drawing, painting, photography, and design. As a child, Jill studied Russian ballet, piano, and violin that broadened her appreciation for the performing arts.

In 1969, she moved to Bakersfield when her father William G. Thayer, a civil engineer was transferred to help build the California Aqueduct. After earning an A.A. degree in Studio Art and Graphic Design from Bakersfield College, and a B.A. in Fine Arts and Marketing from California State University, Bakersfield, she studied Romanesque and Gothic Art and Architecture, Art History of the Renaissance, 17th Century Lithography on Bavarian limestone, and 13th Century Illuminated Choir Pages of San Marco Monastery at Santa Reparata Grafic Arte Centre (now Santa Reparata International School of Art), Drake University European Campus in Florence, Italy in 1978.

As principal of Jill Thayer Associates design and marketing firm, Jill produced award-winning print and web design for regional and global companies over three decades. She received 30+ ADDY Awards from American Advertising Federation and has garnered numerous accolades for her work. Credits include: Disney, NBC, Nestle Dairies/Carnation, Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company, Buck Owens Production Company/KUZZ, Anthony Vineyards, Mission Back, Alliance International, and Tejon Ranch. As a gallerist for 15 years at Jill Thayer Galleries at the Fox, she represented emerging and mid-career contemporary artists internationally receiving critical review.

In 2004, Jill received an M.A. degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with emphases in Contemporary Art and Gallery Practicum with M.B.A. studies in Marketing and Arts Management from California State University, Bakersfield. Jill was accepted with a partial tuition fellowship to the doctoral program at Claremont Graduate University in Cultural Studies/Museum Studies. In 2005, she was accepted to the two-year M.F.A. Visual Arts program at CGU Art, and pursued studio painting, digital media, installation, and gallery practicum concurrent to her doctoral work in critical theory and practice, a first for a doctoral scholar at the university.

In 2011, Jill received a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies/Museum Studies with emphases in Contemporary Art History, Exhibition Theory, Design Theory, and Visual Culture from Claremont Graduate University. She was one of four PhD students with 25 MBA students accepted to a transdisciplinary study in Global Strategy and Trade at St. Peter’s College, University of Oxford, UK through Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management. During this study, she presented a paper on the global art market entitled, “The Effects of European Union Expansion on Creation, Commerce, and Culture.” Her CGU doctoral dissertation, “Artist Emergence in Contemporary Culture: A Dialectic in Social and Material Conditions of Southern California Artists,” 2011, (Proquest/UMI) included interviews and analysis of the art market and its contributors.

In 2012, Jill was awarded a post-doctoral research fellowship by Claremont Graduate University School of Arts and Humanities to compile and produce a documentary series of CGU professors, professors emeritus, and alumni entitled, “In Their Own Words: Oral Histories of CGU Art.” The project was showcased in the CGU Art Peggy Phelps Gallery and East Gallery in an interactive exhibition designed and curated by Thayer. The project featured interviews and profiles of artists Karl Benjamin, Roland Reiss, Michael Brewster, Connie Zehr, Mowry Baden, Ted Kerzie, and John Frame. See: http://www.jillthayer.com/In-Their-Own-Words-Curated-by-Jill-Thayer-PhD-Press-Release-2012.pdf and https://jillthayer.wordpress.com/2012/12/08/in-their-own-words-oral-histories-of-cgu-art/

The narrative transcripts and digital media of the oral history series are included in Archives of American Art at The Smithsonian Institution. See: https://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/oral-history-interviews-relating-to-claremont-graduate-university-school-arts-and-humanities-16127

Jill is a contributing writer for contemporary art publications. Her interviews, reviews, catalogue and monograph essays, and oral histories feature international artists and contributors to the cultural discourse. See: http://www.jillthayer.com/writer/http://jillthayer.wordpress.com; and http://artnarratives.wordpress.com. Her book, Sojourns: 100 Trails of Enlightenment inspired by the California Central Coast is being published by ArchwayPublishing, a division of Simon & Schuster and will be released in 2023.

Early in her career, Jill was a national design instructor for the Certificate of Visual Communication program offered through universities nationally, sponsored by University Television Network/We Educations Programs (Eric Teitelbaum, coordinator). Venues included: University of Colorado, Boulder; State University of New York, Albany; University of Miami; California State University, Northridge; California Polytechnic University, Pomona; California State University, La Jolla; and California State University, San Marcos. In 2016, Jill was guest lecturer on “Digital Media in Contemporary Culture” for California State University, Los Angeles, Department of Arts and Letters in Bill Teitelbaum’s television and film class. She is a keynote speaker for museums and historical societies on topics including: “Global Visual Culture: Contemporary Art and the Environment,” “Curatorial Practice: Connecting Historical Narratives Today,” “Marketing for the Arts: strategic planning for non-profit/cultural institutions and emerging artists,” and “Multidisciplinary Influences of Career Success.”

Jill is an Associate Professor and offers onsite and online curricula in courses such as: Global Visual Culture at Santa Monica College; Art History at Allan Hancock College and Azuza Pacific University; Perspectives in Humanities at Southern New Hampshire University; Marketing Management at Post University Malcolm Baldrige School of Business MBA program; and Marketing and Interactive Strategies at National University School of Business and Management, La Jolla. She is a curriculum reviewer for Community College of Rhode Island. Jill is certified in Canvas, Blackboard, eCollege, and Brightspace Learning Management Systems, and has mentored hundreds of artists and industry professionals throughout her multi-faceted career. In 2022, Jill was appointed Gallery Director/Curator (Interim) for the Ann Foxworthy Gallery at Allan Hancock College for the Fall Term.

She also served as Curator for Estrella Warbirds Museum in Paso Robles. She continues her work as an artist, writer, educator, and independent curator, and is host of “The Art of Life with Dr. Jill Thayer,” a weekly podcast produced for Voice of Paso Internet radio. The program features a look at art, culture, and life on the Central Coast. See: www.jillthayer.com/podcasts. Her podcast, “The Art of Hearst Castle,” features a behind-the-scenes look into the collection, stories behind some of the works of art, the challenge of managing the collection, and the distinction of being a museum accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). Transcript Blog: https://lnkd.in/gPr8n2W Podcast: Full Program (21:19): https://lnkd.in/gzUQZwq.

Jill’s book, Sojourns: 100 Trails of Enlightenment Inspired by the California Central Coast (2023) was published by Archway, a division of Simon & Schuster. It is available at booksellers including Amazon, Applebooks, Barnes & Noble, and Googlebooks.