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Michael Ashley

“Participating in a sensory overloaded society keeps most of us moving to a beat that discourages insight and quiet appreciation.”

Growing up in Springfield, Mo. Michael Ashley spent his childhood playing in rivers, creeks and exploring the complex landscape of the Ozarks. “I strive to create opportunities for people to pause and reflect by adapting functional and utilitarian hand-made objects into moments of serenity and meditation,” states the artist.

After graduating from the College of the Ozarks with a B.A. in painting and ceramics, Ashley did a one-year residency at Tainan National University of the Arts in Taiwan. He came away from that experience with a greater knowledge of technique and form in functional pottery. He went on to earn a M.F.A. in ceramics and painting from the University of Mississippi in 2010. Ashley is currently an Associate Professor of Art at College of the Ozarks in Missouri where he teaches ceramics and painting.

Ashley’s work recalls his fond memories of catching and trapping minnows, crawfish, and dragonflies, as well as experiences fishing with family and friends. Using atmospheric methods like wood, salt, and soda, his work reflects an aged and weathered skin reminiscent of historical artifacts.

“My work invites touch, like a stone plucked from a riverbed. I love pots that are smooth in the hand but have a rugged, natural beauty. I observe a constant erosion and evaporation that takes place at the river’s edge. I strive for layers of visual depth combining sheen, matte and ashy, crackled surfaces to recall this geological wearing. I begin my day with tea; boil the water, strain, pour and savor. That rhythm carries throughout my day whether chopping onions or wedging clay. Make something, use it, let that thing inform life, make more.” – Michael Ashley

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