My work revolves around the disillusionment of adulthood. As children, we long to be grown-ups. It isn’t until we become adults with responsibilities and analytical tendencies that we realize how good we once had it as children. With added pressure of the media, we tend to have bloated expectations of what our lives should be. I have found that having lowered expectations is a key to happiness. I find the beauty in embarrassment in order to avoid ruining a potentially good day. This newly found survival tactic has me utilizing an adolescent aesthetic with a dash of matured melancholy in a hopeless attempt at regaining the pleasures of childhood innocence.
My childhood, daily encounters, contradictions and “flaws” of human character and how we perceive beauty, 90’s cartoons, 80’s fashion, common yet nonsensical anxieties, the funk art movement, and personal traumatic events all serve as inspiration for my work. Certain pieces may be a direct illustration of a particular story, or could be a brew of these influences.
My MFA thesis show, ‘Keep Your Eyes Peeled’, showcased a self-portrait; a large head resembling my own, placed upon a poodle body which was surrounded by smaller, figurative works on their own pedestals. I grew up hunting and partaking in other common rural activities. My father bred Rottweiler puppies, which I interacted with by chaining myself up alongside them for hours, pretending to be a dog myself. I even ate and drank directly from bowls that I took outside. The dogs and deer hunting taught my childhood self about empathy, awareness, trust, and mortality, that of which play an important role in my work and relationships with other people. Poodles have become a personal symbol of striving but never being able to attain. The poodle was originally bred as a hunting dog, but has since become a popular show dog breed. I am drawn to this contradiction of intent versus outcome. I feel like the poodle, growing up in rural Ohio learning one lifestyle, and then relocating to urban Ohio to learn another, but not really feeling a sense of true belonging in either lifestyle. The smaller figures from my thesis show represent past traumatic events that have been conquered by the poodle. The trauma figures resemble the symbolism of a taxidermy trophy. I am proud of my “kills” and wish to display them for all to see. Some of the figures feature an upside-down U shaped piercing that is pushed out from the inside of the face, making it appear as if their eyelids are peeling from their heads. The shapes of the eyelids mimic that of a gravestone, representing the fear and awareness of death and loss, and the ever growing burden of being an empathetic human in a tragic world.
— Ashley Bevington