Claire Ashley: Radiant Beasts

Claire Ashley: Radiant Beasts
September 5 – November 18, 2023


Opening Reception: Thursday, September 14, 5:00-7:00pm

Artist Talk: Thursday, October 19, 5:30-6:30pm (please RSVP)


Claire Ashley’s large-scale inflatables explode the possibilities of painting. Her practice devours the traditional mediums of sculpture, installation, painting, and costume, spitting back hybrid “bodies” that are moveable, wearable, and deliciously preposterous. Made from PVC-coated canvas tarps, spray paint, and small blower fans, Ashley’s work is a complex, humorous mash-up of fine art meets bouncy house.

The artist resists and pushes against the traditional norms of painting, disrupting the straight edges and flat, fixed nature of the discipline by creating bulbous, malleable inflatables that alter themselves to fit new environments. Displayed as site-conscious interventions that shapeshift as they playfully wedge into and squish between architectural spaces, this exhibition expands beyond the walls of Lamont Gallery. Ashley’s monumentally scaled works emerge inside academic buildings and spill out onto campus, surprising the viewer and prompting questions such as, what the object is, how it appeared, and where it came from. Expect the unexpected in this exhibition… It packs a punch!

Scottish-born, Chicago-based artist Claire Ashley received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL), and her BFA from Gray’s School of Art (Aberdeen, Scotland). Currently, she teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Department of Contemporary Practices, and the Department of Painting and Drawing.

Ashley’s work investigates inflatables as painting, sculpture, installation and performance costume. These works have been exhibited nationally and internationally in galleries, museums, and site-specific installations, performances, and collaborations.

She has been featured on blogs such as VICE, Hyperallergic, and Artforum, and in magazines such as Sculpture Magazine, Art Papers, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Time Out Chicago, Yorkshire Post, and Condé Nast Traveller (European).

Image Credits: All works by Claire AshleyClown (Star Patrick), 2018, ripstop nylon, spray paint, and fan. Approximately 18’ x ‘18’ x 18’. Clown II, 2022, Spray paint on ripstop nylon, and fan. Approximately 12' x 12' x 5'. Covid Suit I, 2020, Spray paint, acrylic paint, Tyvek, fan. Approximately 8' x 8' x 8'. Clown I, 2022, Spray paint on ripstop nylon, and fan. Approximately 9' x 8' x 8'



Lamont Gallery programs are supported in part by the Michael C. Rockefeller ’56 Visiting Artists Fund.