Ashton Phillips



Gallery show, May 13 – June 17:
I had to become purple in order to see and hear the purple things.

I had to give my body to their mouths, before I could speak.

I had to touch the unstable ground, lay myself down on it, and become sediment, before I could stand.

Surrender is an interactive, multimedia installation of plastic bodies, including partially consumed styrofoam, desiccated wildflowers, mealworm sheds, and colored light encased in a translucent violet skin. Participants are invited to activate this work by becoming a plastic body, in a sense. Participants may climb onto this vinyl form and feel the sensation of their body being held by a bed of partially transformed plastic. They can surrender themselves, for a moment, to this field of metamorphosis-friendly purple light and allow themselves to be covered in a bath of shapeshifting sound. Contact microphones embedded in the sculpture allow participants to contribute to this experimental, interspecies composition. As each person settles into the sculpture, the embedded microphones transmit the live sound of styrofoam shifting and settling under the participants mass to the resonating plane overhead.

Photo by Jordan Rodriguez

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Ashton Phillips is an interdisciplinary artist based in Los Angeles, focusing on interspecies collaboration, embodied research, and speculative (un)making, as pathways for building resiliency and generating new forms of knowing/feeling/being in the late Capitalocene. His most recent work explores the plasticity and entanglement of human and nonhuman bodies, including synthetic plastic bodies and the metamorphosing creatures that consume and metabolize them. Ashton grew up in “Chemical Valley” of Charleston, WV, surrounded by plastics and cancer-producing chemical plants. He studied anthropology and queer theory in undergrad, the performance of justice and structures of power in law school, and interdisciplinary sculpture and sound art at Maryland Institute College of Art. His work has been exhibited across the country in public 

Ashton’s work has been exhibited in museums, galleries, and artist-run spaces around the United States, including the Torrance Art Museum, Cerritos College, SoLA Contemporary, Angles Gate Cultural Center, Nikki at Mehle Gallery in New Orleans, Louisiana, North Willows artist-run space in Montclair, NJ, Keep Contemporary, the Museum of Encaustic Art, The New Mexico Cancer Center, Ghostwolf Gallery, Southwest College of Visual Art, Santa Maria de Vid Abbey, Art123 Gallery and the University of New Mexico, Gallup, in New Mexico.

Public art commissions and participatory performances include Feast and Famine, a 2022 collaborative performance and sound installation at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook in Culver City, CA; Reflections, a 2020-21 participatory sound art installation in Glendale Central Park; breaking ground, a public performance and temporary land art installation among the landslide ruins of Sunken City on the coast of San Pedro, CA; and Helios Rising, a 170 x 7′ mural responding to the path of the sun in Albuquerque, NM.

Artist Location: Long Beach, CA

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Posted in Artists 2023.