Mind Form

May 16-30, 2020

        Ann Walsh
        Ashton S. Phillips
        Carolyn Forrester
        Colleen Harkins
        Ella Snow
        Gizem Oktay
        Katty Huertas
        Peishan Huang
        Sarabel Santos-Negrón
        Stephanie Garon
        Taraneh Mosadegh


May 1-15, 2020

        Ben Paljor Chatag
        Bingyi Liu
        Ian Miyamura
        Jaejoon Jang
        Lehna Huie
        Seungtack Lim       
        Sun Woo Jung
        Thiang Uk
        Tianran Qu
        Tinglan Huang
        Vian Nguyen
        YunKyoung Cho


Ashton S. Phillips

MFAST, 2022
︎ asp@ashtonsphillips.com
︎ ashtonsphillips.com

My practice is driven by an intense fascination with the materiality of my environment – including my physical body – and with the vitality of the present moment. It is a way of accessing the “here” and the “now” and materializing that experience for myself and others.

On contemplating the “now,” I think of my work as an extended meditation on the poetic tension between the dynamic, bursting power of the present and the stoic, stillness of forever. On accessing the “here,” it is an exploration of the nature of matter itself, with a particular interest in the slippery borderlands between conventional dichotomies of material reality, including solid v. permeable; separate v. whole; moving v. static; active v. passive; and present v. void. And, it is a way of connecting with “place,” as I increasingly incorporate radically local, site-specific materials into my physical work.

I am particularly attracted to humble, fluid materials – like earth, concrete, plaster, rubber, raw wool, rope, wire, and paper – that allow for direct, physical handling, preserve evidence of their handling, and defy precise control. I understand my attraction to materials and processes that require my physical body, defy predictability, and welcome imperfection and irregularity, as a sort of resistance to the generic, impersonal perfection and mundane predictability of the machine/information age.

I count a wide range of influences on my practice: from my early training in improvisational music; to my childhood with my father on the open sea, absorbing the mysteries of wind, water, and sail; to my undergraduate studies in anthropology and my time abroad in India, France, and Morocco – places and studies that helped me reconnect with a sense of the sacred in everyday life. My time living on the border of the Navajo Nation in rural New Mexico has also had an enormous impact on my work and practice – cultivating in me a strong connection to the expansive stillness of the land and the raw, tumultuous forces of nature that are so palpable there.

Conceptually, I am interested in the writing and thinking of the New Materialists, including Jane Bennett, and the neo-vitalists, including Paul Virillio and Giles Deleuze. I am also interested in how these ideas about the artificiality of categorical/binary thinking and the intertwining, entangled nature of physical reality relate to queer theory, with a particular interest in transgender experience and how art and life can queer the normative body.
Exposed, 2020
site-specific installation, exposed tree root, exposed urban earth, scrap, industrial aluminum, rain, leaves, weeds 
approximately 30 x 24 x 6 inches

Reaching Through (Grounding Place), 2020
site-specific installation, hand-shaped hole dug into contaminated urban earth, exposed tree root, and local debris, including leaves, weeds, concrete rubble, and feathers
approximately 18 x 12 x 8 inches

Steel/Wool, 2020
excavated urban dirt, sand, water, steel mesh, leather scrap, plastidip, twine, raw wool, limewash, oxide pigments
7 x 12 x 4 inches (dimensions variable)

Milk and Honey, 2020
plaster, raw wool, vinyl, wire, braided hose, cast concrete, acrylic, and foam
12 x 26 x 12 inches (dimensions variable)