I've been reckoning with my upbringing in a conservative rural community and with my current residence in a progressive urban city. My first project in a new series of related works are stuffed bears, which I am making available to the community in local Philly shops; the Museum Shop at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and will also be available in the Online Holiday Shop at The Center for Emerging Visual Artists. As I continue my research and expand this series, I hope to be able to identify and create connections between rural and urban spaces.
About the Work:
“Members of my family have created stuffed bears for generations for various reasons. Through acknowledging my countryside roots and current urban residence, I created Rural Urban Bears to explore my identity and to focus on relationship building. The perceived dichotomies and harmful generalizations of the rural and urban complicated my early adult years and still complicate my relationship to family and friends in present day. What would happen if the rural learned from the urban, and the urban from the rural? Could we bridge the gap? How can we apply this same logic to our relationships and our everyday lives? With their kitsch design in an urban setting, Rural Bears exist to strengthen, affirm, and build relationships as objects of connection - whether that be through gift giving, home display, or personal collection.”
THECOLORG is a feminine queer interdisciplinary artist who grew up in Martinsburg, PA and currently lives and works in Philadelphia, PA. She earned her BFA from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and her MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Her work examines and creates visual and physical relationships between art, architecture, and place that exist as a metaphor for connections and bridges between her childhood and adulthood experiences. Recent work examines her relationship to the rural and the urban, where these relationships overlap, the stigma surrounding them both, and how to make space to understand the rural as a place of contemporary art and culture through questioning the cultural dominance of the urban. With a focus on queering the perceived binaries between the rural and urban, she hopes to be able to create or identify a place of understanding, learning, and community building between the two.
I plan to update this blog page with images and developments in this project :)
For fun, below is an image of my favorite stuffed animal as a child - Ott the otter (yes, I still have them in my studio!). I used to make "Boxcars" for them to "drive" as well as racing outfits. Nascar and Late Model racing influenced much of my early art making and I expressed my influences and interests through my stuffed animals. I often used my parent's workplaces as "sponsors" for the cars...I started making these when I was in 4th grade. After searching through piles of pictures, I finally found this one!
Ash Garner - THECOLORG