Ashley Lathe is a member of the MFA in Studio Art Class of 2014. He is in the midst of preparing work for his thesis exhibition set to be shown next summer. MFAST alum Bart O’Reilly recently interviewed him for the Baltimore-based online art publication, bmoreart. Below are a few memorable excerpts from their exchange.
“While I consider myself a “painter,” I have spent my efforts exploring ways to take painting into different contexts, to challenge what the essence of painting is. I always want to challenge myself, and the time seemed right to confront an agreed upon approach to the medium.”
“My work has certainly taken a trajectory towards a personal identity within a cultural one. Being from the American South, I have had to negotiate perception, heritage, and legacy. The canvas surface has become the battlefield for these negotiations.”
“For me, there is some irony in the pervasive idea that painting is a dead medium given that “everything has been done.” Creativity has always been about reconfiguring what is already there in new and innovative ways. In this regard I’m not convinced that painting today is doing anything it hasn’t been doing all along.”
“We all want to progress to a non-hierarchical, equal world culture, but it’s a road riddled with uncertainty that is perceived as threatening to our individuality. Self-expression today is just a form of clinging to that identity. It isn’t meant to inflate the individual or deny the identity of others. It is simply a stand, one that stubbornly clings to the value of oneself in a way that cannot be replicated by another, no matter how similar we are or how much the lines of cultural distinction are blurred.”
Lathe’s refreshing insights on painting, cultural identity, and self expression can be found in their entirety here: Skill in an Unskilled World: Bart O’Reilly Interviews Painter Ashley Lathe