Jill Ziccardi was born and raised on Long Island (New York) in a traditional Italian working class family, and got-hooked on art as a teenager. She pursued an academic curriculum as a high school student but often struggled; art was an arena where she felt comfortable and successful.

Ziccardi earned a BFA in Art (with honors) from Carnegie Mellon University and won annual department awards in her sophomore, junior and senior years. While there, she studied with abstract painter Sam Gilliam, who became a mentor to her for many years to follow. In addition, Ziccardi was awarded a full-tuition merit scholarship from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago to obtain her MFA. After graduating, she remained in Chicago and began exhibiting her work.

At age 26, she secured her first teaching post as a painting professor. She taught college students for the next 8 years (at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Valparaiso University, Columbia College, University of Illinois) in studio and classroom settings, focusing on a curriculum that explored the responsibility of the artist in society, an important subject for her. This led her out of academia and into underserved communities, using art as a vehicle to build relationships, visual literacy and community with low-income youth and families. Later, these experiences steered her to leadership positions at Free Arts NYC, 1199 Child Care Corp and other non-profit arts organizations.

In 2001, the artist returned to her native New York, and lived in Red Hook, Brooklyn until buying a house in the Hudson Valley in 2010 where she now lives and works. Ziccardi has maintained an active studio practice for decades and continues to show her work locally and nationally. In addition to winning many cash awards in juried exhibitions, Ziccardi was recently recognized for her painting, Broken Heart, as a Finalist in the Rare Artist contest with The Everylife Foundation. Her paintings can be seen in a number of private and museum collections across the United States.