Ashley Morgan studied sculpture at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (MFA 2010) and visual arts at Arkansas State University (BFA 2006). In addition to local and national research, Morgan has traveled abroad to study contemporary sculpture on the streets of Florence, Italy, to gain insight into the boundaries between public and private viewing of contemporary art. She has exhibited both nationally and internationally, including public art projects in Florence, Italy and Seoul, Korea. She has created site-specific installations and has been a part of numerous group exhibitions including works at the Charles Allis Art Museum, the John Michael Kohler Art Center and the Museum of Jurassic Technology. Ashley Morgan lives and works in Pittsburgh.
As an installation artist, object maker, and painter, working in galleries, homes, and site-specific locations, I attempt to draw the viewer into a romantic world where love and loss are revealed and the idea of home is a constant search.
I am endlessly interested in objects’ ability to quietly transform space into a surreal playing field for the imagination. Romantic and Surreal literature inspire me to focus on that which gives me an overwhelming sense of awe in the world. I make selections for materials and content from my immediate surroundings, like my everyday views of the Frick Park forest or the tantalizing sound and appearance of rain beating against windows. Consequently, rain, gravity and time are often implemented to literally sculpt my work. I attempt to reveal the expression of the human condition through vaguely dream-like scenarios that possess familiar qualities, such as a sacred relic of an age- old star contacting the earth or windows that are gridded with a thin coat of honey, producing short-lived, “stained” glass.
I try to implement a dramatic use of materials and form to transport the viewer to another place and time where our workaday lives are forgotten. This play with materials is often inseparable from the unique process that I apply to each project, whether it involves the act of collection, the movement of a constant repetition, or physical transformation. I embrace change, as it is the only thing that can be certain, and I try to send a gentle reminder that our lives are short, our loves are great, and time marches on.
For this exhibition at SPACE gallery, the inspiration for the piece, “Ok-- any star” is taken from a poem written in 1956 by William Stafford. In the poem, the narrator considers the complex situation of whether to be loyal to the state or to a star. And in a glorious moment, the star wins.
To me, a star is one of the most magical relics- it has survived from another place and time and exists in reality as tangible evidence that we are so small in the context the greater cosmos.
The Star in the Hills by William Stafford
A star hit in the hills behind our house
up where the grass turns brown touching the sky.
Meteors have hit the world before, but this was near, and since TV; few saw, but many felt the shock.
The state of California owns that land
(and out from shore three miles), and any stars
that come will be roped off and viewed on week days 8 to 5.
A guard who took the oath of loyalty and denied any police record told me this:
"If you don't have a police record yet
you could take the oath and get a job
if California should be hit by another star."
"I'd promise to be loyal to California
and to guard any stars that hit it," I said, "or any place three miles out from shore, unless the star was bigger than the state-- in which case I'd be loyal to it."
But he said no exceptions were allowed,
and he leaned against the state-owned meteor
so calm and puffed a cork-tip cigarette
that I looked down and traced with my foot in the dust and thought again and said, "OK--any star."