Moon­lit Crea­tures

American Art Collector - - Contents -

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.

Lot­ton Gallery

900 N. Michi­gan Av­enue, Level 6 • Chicago, IL 60611 (312) 664-6203 • www.lot­ton­



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