ASHLEY ANNE CLARK
For mixed media artist Ashley Anne Clark, her focus has always been on animals. “I’ve been pushing for animal rights since I was a young teen,” she says. Hoping to elicit compassion and appreciation for all living creatures, Clark endeavors to immerse viewers within the intricate emotions of animal life—worry, angst, surprise—and connect those emotions to that of the human experience. The Charlottetown, Canada, artist’s upcoming exhibition Moonlight Wanderers at Lotton Gallery explores these connections in a way that is literally larger than ever before, as Clark explains that the pieces featured in this show are much bigger than she normally creates, giving her the space to explore a more developed narrative.
“Into the night, under the light of the silvery moon, Ashley Anne Clark takes us to her secret world filled with nocturnal animals, moths and butterflies,” says Christina Franzoso, Lotton Gallery director. “Ashley’s paintings are magical incantations, little treasure-filled fables of her world in Prince Edward Island.”
A distinctly illustrative style, her artwork incorporates a variety of different natural
materials, further deepening that connection to the wild. Dark backdrops highlight the subjects of these pieces, which include mostly North American animals like foxes, bears, wolves, hares and deer. She starts every piece on a wooden paneled canvas, and then uses seaweed, wood, bark or sand, layering these different substances on top of each other to form the landscapes. To bring the subjects to life, Clark uses watercolors. The seaweed, she explains, creates unpredictability in texture, with sporadic lines and indentations—“a touch of wilderness.”
Lately, Clark says she has been incorporating moths into many of her works as well, which she describes as adding a “spiritual element” to each piece. In Fox Brothers, a pair of bright red-orange foxes is contrasted against a dark night sky while two moths flutter beside them. Spotted Owl and the Moon is clean and simple, depicting a white-and-gray freckled owl perched beneath a starry scene. A recent trip to Costa Rica also inspired several new subjects for this exhibition, like anteaters and oncillas, deviating slightly from her typical depictions of North American beasts.
Clark’s work encourages viewers to imagine animals more complexly. For this show, Clark says she is branching out and exploring a wider range of animal relationships, including that of parents and children. One piece in her new exhibition depicts a mother grizzly bear with her three cubs, which Clark describes as both peaceful and representative of the strongwilled and nurturing mothers we know in our own lives. Sibling relationships and other family dynamics are explored in this body of work as well. Sometimes viewers connect to Clark’s pieces in ways the artist says she could never have predicted, like the memory of a time a porcupine crossed their path, or more difficult ones, such as the memory of a relative passing away. “By connecting to the emotions animals have, I’m hoping humans can relate to them in some way,” Clark says, “[creating] a greater love for animals in general.”
The exhibition runs July 1 to 29.
900 N. Michigan Avenue, Level 6 • Chicago, IL 60611 (312) 664-6203 • www.lottongallery.com