Unedited conversations between artist in a productive critique discovering thesis and processes behind the work.
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The Untitled Ones IV, 2008
Silver Gelatin Print
12 x 18 in.
how are you Samara
ASH: I'm well thanks
GUERRIER: right, how do we begin?
ASH: I'm not too sure about how it goes
have you had these conversations before?
GUERRIER: yes with Olivia
she mentioned that the subject of your works is very intriguing
ASH: As I look back... my work correlates with my exploration about spirituality
My own spirituality
GUERRIER: why the distinction "my own"?
ASH: As I began questioning who we follow in various aspects of life...
GUERRIER: do we humans engage spirituality similarly?
ASH: I see a desire to worship as the common thread
Either some worship concepts or ideologies... or money
GUERRIER: do you practice a religion?
ASH: I do now
ASH: I follow the bible... Christianity.
I began my series almost 9 years ago...
I began by creating idols and deities
Mixed media installation with pencil-drawing and fabric.
GUERRIER: but you didn't before?
ASH: Yeah... I didn’t before....
GUERRIER: did your art practice move you towards practicing a religion?
ASH: I think my search for enlightenment led me to question spirituality through art
My works became commentary on those ideas/objects we follow or venerate...
bow down to...
I found along the way that man has a habit of trying to add meaning to things even if they don’t offer what we think they can provide
this is when the term idolatry came into my series as a theme
not only as a term to be applied to religion.
It was a commentary to the blind adoration of money... power,
GUERRIER: idolatry is tricky to talk about
it usually exist with hierarchies
ASH: Idols can also be concepts
GUERRIER: i understand
ASH: Our reverence to role models ... to possession ... or to ourselves
For a while I looked into how buildings where worshiped in the 12th century
A part of my series focused on Gothic architecture...
Romanesque Cathedrals were intensely modified in order to make the devout feel as if this was the actual house of God
These changes in the structure of the building led to Gothic Cathedrals... bright, godly...
Tall, immense... making those who came in small
GUERRIER: have you looked into how people have worshiped outside the European Christian traditions?
and how the language used may hint to notions of space, objects and rituals
ASH: Yes, I have ...
made a couple of works regarding the subject, but wished to draw away from the religious
GUERRIER: i think it is difficult to make meaningful works about spirituality
ASH: This is part of my research regarding text and adoration of idols outside of Christianity
Prayer to Lakshmi, 2012
Text on Panel
96 x 72 in.
GUERRIER: and so the works tend to be about someone on their spiritual journey
ASH: or a conversation about our desire to place meaning into things
GUERRIER: that may be easier
we have a history of placing meaning in things
like words, sounds, colors
are linked to meaning
ASH: i think ultimately... i wish for all of us to questions those meaning that either we or others have given to things
GUERRIER: for example, piece of paper with an image of dead prez and the number 5
what are we looking for?
ASH: I feel that following blindly is a obstacle to creativity and enlightenment
GUERRIER: yes, follow blindly is not recommended
ASH: The process of questioning is very important... maybe more important then the actual answers.
GUERRIER: but what level of engagement amount to not-being-blind
ASH: I don’t follow
GUERRIER: that is philosophy
love of learning
i think you may be right, in that to know fully amounts to a more complete view of the us and spirituality
i guess that is the broad aim of religion
then, how can art help?
ASH: By hopefully triggering self analysis...
What do we devout our time to?
Is that in which we focus... giving back? Either mentally, educationally... does it unify or create confusion
Self analysis seems to become scarce... the common consensus is that one must act and nurture the feeling, thus, acting on it
But, a very crucial aspect is to analyze compare... learn from our actions and their repercussions on ourselves, on others, on our well being
GUERRIER: i am not sure it is common consensus
is self analysis necessary?
ASH: ok... maybe a social...
im looking for the word
GUERRIER: social analysis?
ASH: social stimulus...
GUERRIER: but why? spirituality is personally practiced
one have to be good to the world
the world can be less than good to us
but one still have to be good
ASH: Spirituality can also be a fad
i mean there are trend and social fads
but spirituality, religion, art are all beyond that
ASH: An example ... meditation... yoga
I believe people have varying definitions for spirituality
GUERRIER: yoga is exercise and business in the west
GUERRIER: i don't know meditation as a trend
but it is useful to think
even most casually
ASH: Its an in-depth subject...but as we look through history certain spiritual practices had to be applied to ones life in order to follow those ruling a nation during a particular period
GUERRIER: i think trends tend to be the surface of real gestures and movement
ASH: I believe a lot of trends are dictated by the market
dictated by something larger
ASH: Agreed. I believe the trend is now to follow hybrid spirituality... a mix and match of various ideologies
GUERRIER: a zeitgeist
ASH: A combination of things that suit you as an individual.
GUERRIER: i would not know. and generally don't care.
but i do care about humans needs for fulfillment
ideas and their exploration often can get us to place of fulfillment
ASH: I guess my goal is to create work that at some level triggers
questions on what we follow day to day
GUERRIER: i used to think human endeavors may have spiritual limits
ASH: What do you think now?
GUERRIER: i think words like paths and journeys indicate longer engagement in one's endeavors
ASH: Engagement... beautiful word
GUERRIER: philosophy or theological teachings tend to align with the longer view on knowledge, its acquisition and its use in our everyday
ASH: Analysis propagates engagement