'Things Thrown Upward' Playfully Exhibits At Lula Cafe

By Staff in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 23, 2014 4:35PM

Claire Ashley's exhibit, "Things Thrown Upward," on view now at Lula Cafe in Logan Square, is a collection of works occupying a variety of genre spaces: painting, sculpture, and a performative interaction. Ashley's materials are mass-produced, democratic media: canvas tarpaulin; plywood; spray paint; and pleather upholstery. In her artist's statement, Ashley says she is interested in "exploring the possibilities of low-brow, mundane, unconventional materials." The result is a collection of works that contort themselves and their material, as well as playfully confound the space and those who inhabit it.

"Thing Three" is a large stuffed sculpture of PVC-coated canvas tarpaulin and spray paint. It hangs from the ceiling in the main room, connoting bloat and release with the round, bulbous shapes getting progressively smaller as they form into udder-like protrusions. The piece continues along to another wall as if it is an organic being growing and living within the space.

Motion and growth is present throughout the show. There is the blooming from the wall in "Scatter Wall Constellation" which is made up of 33 small sculptures which are at once multi-dimensional mini paintings. There is movement in "Elephant Man” in its shadow play and reflection in the mirror that hangs on the wall next to it. From every angle, the work looks different. The protrusions that peek out of the plywood holes hang down or go upward, and the title of the exhibition implies this gravity and the defying of it.

Ashley’s palette is of the fluorescent variety, making them all the more delightfully playful. That these pieces are inflatable and can be flaccid or stuffed to create abstract shapes interests Ashley as her statement attests: "I find the inflatable form compelling, as it exists in two states ..." And while I walked through the opening studying her work, I was compelled and in two states where I both pondered and played.

Through Sept. 9, Lula Café, 2537 N. Kedzie Ave.

By: Carrie McGath