Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I am the seventh and youngest child in a very religious family, an American family living at different points on the globe. When I moved to the U.S. mainland to pursue an undergraduate degree, I was staggered by the creeping magnitude of alienation. Does everyone else feel this? There was a culture of dominance all around me, with a beautiful yet cracked veneer. The urge to scratch and peel it back is perhaps what ultimately moved me to study media and visual arts.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I used to copy my older sister’s drawings. I thought she was a great artist and, as a child, tried to emulate her. Sometimes she offered me guidance, such as how to measure the proportions of a face or how to practice my penmanship. Mostly, though, this was a preoccupation I carried out in private. I studied her sketches and scribbles and attempted to reproduce them myself. This is how I first learned to draw.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
My work picks and pulls at the embodied anxieties from insatiable capitalism, chewing over desire, bodies, and fetish objects.
What is your process like?
I have been working on a photographic body of work for almost three years now which consists of still lifes shot in a studio on color film. The project started as a personal challenge to develop technical skills with cameras and lighting and somewhere along the way became an obsessive pursuit to visually articulate my subconscious. I learned that the still life, as a style, is ripe with materialistic and anthropomorphic traits. I have used it to tease out anxieties, expelling ideas on sexuality, violence, and consumption. More than anything, I suppose, I am interested in underscoring the human tendencies to imagine, fantasize, and symbolize.
Is there any subject or theme you’ve been particularly interested in lately?
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for art?
Maybe applying for graduate school.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
A great influence on my photography practice was the work of Jo Ann Callis, especially her early color photographs. The first time I saw them I was struck by how contained and chaotic they were, creating a delicate tension or quiet anxiety. Does everyone else feel this?
Is there any piece of advice you would offer to others?
Have fun having fun.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
Having to translate visual ideas into something more verbal in order to answer questions and defend my work.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far, related to your work?
I just had my first solo exhibition at the wonderful Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, Oregon.
Find more at ashleymillerphoto.com!