Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art opens Present Box Exhibition: Claire Ashley: Plump, Pucker, Squish

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Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art opens Present Box Exhibition: Claire Ashley: Plump, Pucker, Squish
Claire Ashley, Clown (Bozo) (detail), 2019, Spray paint on PVC-coated ripstop nylon, and fan, Approx. 10’ x 10’ x 10’. Photo courtesy of the artist.

BOULDER, CO.- Artist Claire Ashley’s vibrant inflatables will devour BMoCA’s Present Box from the inside out, occupying the space like an invasive but beautiful weed. On view August 11–28, her site-specific installation Plump, Pucker, Squish invites viewers to experience the joy, humor, and downright absurdity in her work.

Ashley blurs the lines between painting, sculpture, installation, and performance. She covers her monumentally scaled inflatables in abstract painting in an exhaustive palette of neon hues. Her acidic, bold colors reference pop culture and greet the viewer with an infectious sense of joy that cannot be ignored. Working on PVC-coated ripstop nylon, Ashley creates amorphous, undefinable forms that feel recognizable yet uncannily abstract.

The works on view will fill every nook and cranny of the museum’s lobby and front entrance as they grow and expand upwards from the floorboards. Ashley uses fans to slowly inflate and deflate the bulbous forms, changing how viewers can navigate around the works. The installation challenges our sense of perception and raises questions about how the work can be read and experienced throughout multiple stages of its “life.”

With their skin-like surfaces and soft, pudgy forms in a consistent state of flux, Ashley’s inflatables beg for physical engagement. The opening reception on August 11 will feature movement performances by artists from Embodied Arts co(LAB) in Lyons, CO inspired by Ashley's work. The movement artists will fuse her painting and sculptural practices with performance.

By exploring and questioning what a body can be, Plump, Pucker, Squish continues the themes addressed by the seven artists in BMoCA’s concurrent exhibition Grossly Affectionate. Both exhibitions challenge binaries, such as human/nonhuman, hard/soft, and organic/synthetic and feature artists who play with the possibilities of their materials.

Claire Ashley received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her BFA from Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen, Scotland. Originally from Edinburgh, Scotland, Ashley is now based in Chicago. Currently, she teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Department of Contemporary Practices and the Department of Painting and Drawing.

Ashley’s work investigates inflatables as painting, sculpture, installation, and performance costume. She has been featured in Hyperallergic, Artforum, and Sculpture Magazine, among other publications. Her work has been exhibited internationally in galleries, museums, site-specific installations, performances, and collaborations. Ashley has recently had solo exhibitions at MOCA Jacksonville, FL; Boston Children’s Museum; 808 Gallery, Boston University; Icebox Project Space, Philadelphia; and The Chicago Cultural Center. Her work has been featured in group exhibitions at numerous venues, including Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, England; Art Basel, Kassel, Germany; and MCA Chicago. Ashley’s work has also been exhibited across Scotland.

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