Friday, September 14, 2012
Ashley Foxx: Focus on art
"Art is my focus. Art is everywhere. It enriches our lives."
How many artists do you know who look spectacular wearing a miniskirt with floral, embroidered nylons and high heel boots? Ashley Foxx is able to combine California Girl chic with East Texas charm. She is young, beautiful, and talented, with an absolute spot-on, no kidding around understanding of what is important in art, and more significantly, what is important in her own art.
“My paintings are very personal to me. They help me to deal with my feelings, whether those feelings are good or bad,” she said. “As such, they bring out a powerful emotion from the viewers who see them. Sometimes it is a feeling of joy, but sometimes it is a way to share some of the basic human grief we all know and recognize. If a work is so peaceful and so calm that it has no emotion, if it has no emotion and no life, it’s not a work of art. Something like that is only a combination of canvas and paint.”
Closure is a small but powerful painting in which a woman is crying so hard that the dripping paint runs down the canvas to hide parts of her face. “I painted this at a difficult time in my life.” Foxx gave careful details about her reason for creating this particular work. “I was moving away from a long-term relationship, and I was confused about where I was going to go from there. I was distraught. I grabbed the paint and began to work. I trapped my emotions on that canvas. Once I had put them there, I didn’t have to deal with them anymore.”
Several of her works use words as a basic part of the paintings. When she chooses to use words, she uses them as a stream of consciousness. It is almost as though the written words pour directly out of her mind and go through her artist’s hand with little concern for what they are going to say until after she has said it.
She started one particular piece by painting a self-portrait. Then she began writing. “I use the words without even thinking about what I am saying. Look at it!” she exclaimed. “You can see how the words start off neat and even and carefully placed at the top of the painting. As I write, they become bigger and more erratic until they are huge and violent down there at the bottom.” She described the painting and the words as having equal importance, but she added, “Sometimes the words are more significant and sometimes the image is more important.”
She likes to work in series. She describes her clock series as self-aware pieces, which sometimes use paint, sometimes collage, and sometimes found objects. “My abstract work has been described as a galaxy or a universe,” she explained. “The clocks are important to a consideration of time which leads to a consideration of life itself.”
Her example was a small semi-abstract work on canvas which showed a slender female figure with many hands and arms. The clock face is where her human face should be.
“I actually used several found objects for this one,” she remarked. “The woman’s hands look like they are moving. The hands of the clocks are really working. They really are moving. In some of the clock series, I have smashed the faces of the clocks so that they are moving, but they are not telling time. By using the clocks in my work, I show how I feel pressured by time. And yes, I am very much influenced by Salvador Dali’s painting of melted clocks. They are dramatic, almost frightening. Possibly that is the reason I started making the clocks. These pieces recognize and acknowledge that time can get away from us. Making these works helps me make peace with time.”
Another Foxx series features small, less colorful paintings of animals and figures. They are both wistful and misleading. At first, they appear to be simple little cartoon-like characters which resemble illustrations moving through an abstract background. More careful observation shows there is something altogether different going on.
“The characters are always a little bit different,” she said. “I want to create a sense of intrigue so people will want to know the story and then will want to know more about the story. Wishful Thinking looks soft and cuddly, almost friendly and detached. I drew this little furry figure and named him Wishful. Clearly, he is thinking as he walks through a snowy world. So, Wishful Thinking is a nice play on words.”
She says these small pieces are fun for her to do. She enjoys painting and drawing the fanciful animals and the fairy tale creatures on card stock or watercolor paper. She uses Sharpie pens, which make it possible for her to create carefully detailed work. Finely detailed images hide inside her magic world. She also uses watercolors, paint pens, and ink pens to create the fascinating universe where her little creatures live.
“Sharpies are surprisingly permanent for a material that doesn’t start out by being an art material. When they say they are permanent, they mean they are permanent,” she added. “I have used them on different papers, canvases, boards and they hold up beautifully. Sharpies don’t fade. They don’t bleed, not even when I paint acrylic and watercolors over them.”
Art is always an adventure for the artist as well as for the viewer, and Foxx’s latest work is an adventure into sculpture using found objects.
“I have done some found object sculptures in the past, and I always found them interesting. Right now, I’m using some manikin legs I found sticking up out of a dumpster outside my apartment. Of course they have to have a story to begin with, because who tosses manikin legs into an apartment dumpster? Unfortunately, I don’t know that story so I have to make up a story of my own. These manikin legs bring me a whole new vision. My concept is rather random. I‘m painting them and writing on them. Since they are standing on a sort of pedestal, they might get a light and become a sculptural lamp.
She has sound reasons for her energetic fascination with three-dimensional art. “Three-dimensional work comes out of the world of art and comes right into the real world where we live,” she said. “You can walk around it and see what’s happening at the front, back and the sides of it. For that reason, it seems easier for most people to relate to it. We can see it, touch it, experience it on all sides.”
She admits the process of exhibiting can often be stressful for an artist. However, since she considers her work as a way to communicate with others, exhibiting is important to her art. “If your work is not exhibited,” she said, “It is not speaking to anybody, so what’s the point? The main thing for me is showing my work, discussing it, and having people respond to it. You have to focus on your art. When I bring out new pieces in an exhibit, it is terrifying. You have to get yourself out there, particularly with works that are as personal as mine. The more you like the work, the more frightening it is to show it.”
When asked about the importance of art, her answer was precise and simple: “Art is my focus. Art is everywhere, she said. “It enriches our lives.”