May 21 - September 11, 2016
Claire Ashley’s two-gallery installation immerses visitors in a multisensory landscape packed with DayGlo-colored pneumatic sculptures. It consists of wildly painted plastic-coated tarps whose billowing forms range from boulder size up to floor-to-ceiling scale. Ashley subverts their heroic size, however, with a sense of the absurd: sewn patches, bruise-like colors, and creases, render the sculptures’ taut, membrane-like surfaces as bloated, cartoony organisms referencing motherhood and eroticism. These encapsulating environments are permeated in the larger space by Joshua Patterson's soundscape, and in the smaller space by ultraviolet lighting.
During the exhibition’s closing reception, five of Ashley’s sculptures will come alive in an outdoor performance at Uptown Normal’s scenic roundabout. Powered by student performers sealed inside, the colorful organ-like forms will transform the roundabout into a surreal dance floor as they frolic in response to a live audio piece played by Patterson.
Originally from Edinburgh, Scotland, Ashley currently lives in Oak Park, Illinois, and teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Department of Contemporary Practices. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in solo and group exhibitions, site-specific installations, and performances at venues that include Cleve Carney Art Gallery, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, Illinois; Disjecta Contemporary Art Center, Portland; Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago; Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago; The Tetley, Leeds, England; and Highland Institute for Contemporary Art, Inverness, Scotland. Ashley received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her BFA from Gray’s School of Art at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland. She is represented by Galleri Urbane Marfa + Dallas, Texas.
This project is organized by University Galleries’ Curator Jason Judd.