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An interview with artist Ashley Macias.

5 Dec

Ashley Macias’ artwork is often a reflection of nature and ourselves. Her work explores the complex nature of organic fluidity, the deeper consciousness, and appreciation for beauty that is existence. She uses acrylic and spray-paint to create an organic, surreal element associating with natural elements of color whether earth tone or vibrant, passionate arrays. The eyes are a common association with the Pineal gland, and her work is an expressive portrayal of a deeper insight to our living selves.

We caught up with Ashley after she returned from Burning Man 2014.


Do you find your style evolving as you continue to create art, or do you find yourself continuing to explore and perfect certain forms, with all their depths and complexity?


My overall style is definitely progressing the more serious I become about the quality of my work. It’s not as apparent until many months have passed and I rummage through prior works. I tend to find internal conflicts in my work when I feel as if I am not advancing. Ultimately, it’s that very realization later on that teaches me where my process of creation is headed, and that I have in fact been making progress through these challenges. I’m always looking for a new direction without losing the very essence of my technique. When I am faced with conflicts of growth in my work, I become more radical and chaotic in my attempts. Deviating often helps me understand this. My style is becoming more defined and clear with more effort and time.


Do you have a process for approaching a new piece? Do you tend to plan in a formal way, or do you just start sketching?


I try to be as organic as possible, but it often begins with a eye. There’s a deep essence that consumes me in the awareness and internal consciousness that mystifies my mind when I draw eyes. I try to be as fluid as possible when
creating a world around the eye and most often will paint a piece inspired by it. Organic lines, people, and dimensions consume me further. From a simpler perspective, I tend to plan through my drawings. They are all the things I wish to paint with time and planning. Sketching is like someone’s daily cup of coffee for me. It’s how I begin my day. I try to be as free as possible with my ideas on paper or canvas. I will sometimes intend something on canvas and find myself painting something completely new. It’s all about how I feel that determines the movement in my lines.


What is your current project?


Organizing my projects seems to be my current project. I often take on more than I can handle. I have a deep willingness to try everything and be better than myself. Besides applying for upcoming grants and planning group shows with other local artists, I’m trying to become more involved in public art with youths and public mural work. So naturally I converged the two and will be working with non-profits to beautify walls with young minds in hopes of inspiring them through art. I’m also currently in the process of starting a more detailed and imaginative series as well. It’s something I am more privately evolving with time. I can’t quite grasp this new direction in my personal work, but I genuinely feel this will be very different from my previous conquests. It’s going to be special for me and hopefully for those with whom I share it.


When did you first know that you wanted to create art?


Always. I was not always conscious that I could actually be a working artist, but I knew it was what I believed was my true happiness and that art was the only way. Being little and creating was my internal home. Nobody really told me I could do these things. As I got into my teens, I had more guidance with the help of teachers, which ultimately led me into an artist internship that changed my life for the better. Through artistic advances, my feelings about creating my work became more concise; therefore, I would challenge myself and become greater with effort, patience, and resilience. It’s who I am, and I’m proud it is the path I will walk my whole life.




Who are you reading right now?


Currently The Mission of Art by Alex Grey. It is always a great guideline and art inspiration book to pick up and read every so often. He has a lot to say about the creative process, and I tend to connect with his vision even if our work is not necessarily the same. I have other current interests in books such as The Resurrectionist & anatomy related texts.




Which artists and periods/ styles inspire you?


I enjoy Romanticism & Surrealism overall. Both have a dramatic complexity I can’t quite explain but I feel through. I feel more attached to the subject matter. I don’t feel hugely inspired by particular artists. I enjoy some of the common greats like Dali, Basquiat, & M.C Escher, but they don’t necessarily define my work. I really try hard not to obsess about a lot of artists and their work in hopes of creating more of what’s internal in myself.



You have also done collaborative and performance work. Where do you find the intersections between that work and your solo art, if you draw connections or lines? Is there significant bleed-through? Does one feed the other?


I find plenty of inspiration in performance art. There’s something about the physical action through motion that allows me to grasp a better concept of what I am trying to convey in some of my work. Everything flows and has a process of natural fluidity in my eyes. Performance and my art are best friends. They compliment one another in my style of work. I find a lot of my technique comes from people such as dancers being physically creative. The form, the delicate gestures and the swiftness all compel me.They are so free and fluid in their craft. I recently brought my work to life through wood cutout figures and a group of dancers in the Scottsdale Public Art Water+Art +Light event. I painted them as surreal organic figures emerging from the water, and they performed as water with such dynamic presence and desire for our precious resource. It was a push into another direction for my art, and that has created more possibilities in the future with performers. I can take my solo work and incorporate it into actual living beings in various ways and interpretations, and that is exciting. I really want to become more involved in public and performance art. Collaborations allow me to break out of my comfort zone and gain useful tools while working with other artistic minds.


So I have to ask this question of everyone. If you could become a different animal, which animal would you be? And why?


The first thing that came to mind was a Tiger like coated monkey with a Lion head feature and the eyes of a hawk and the heart of a child. It just sounded right, and then I laughed. I think I just prefer my own imagination.




ASHLEY MACIAS is a downtown Phoenix based artist born in Laguna Niguel whose artwork is strongly influenced by everyday interactions and complexities of life through nature and consciousness. Self taught at a young age, Macias’s mind always runs wild with imaginative ways to translate the things we see, think & feel. Her techniques in bold line work are often inspired by the natural raw organic flow in plants, the aging of people, and a deeper awareness of complex human emotions.

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excerpt: first letter from Nelly Sachs to Paul Celan, May 1954

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You have an eye for that spiritual landscape that lies hidden behind everything. Here, and power of expression for the quiet unfolding secret. —

I, too, must walk this inner path that leads from “Here” towards the untold sufferings of my people, and gropes onwards out of the pain.

Interview with Marium Khalid

29 Sep


We first met Marium Khalid in an abandoned Atlanta warehouse after a brilliant immersive performance of her theater company’s adaptation of Moby-Dick. And now we follow everything she creates, because everything she creates is challenging and magical.

Marium Khalid-245


Her vision statement inspires us:

I was lost in the desert, so I built a shade.
I craved knowledge, so I learned to listen.
I was living in gray, so I brightened the colors.
I wanted to teach, so I become a student.
I heard my song, so I found my voice.
I desired to conquer, so I learned how to share. I yearned to grow, so I discovered my roots.
I needed to love, so I decided to help.
I wanted a change, so I spoke to the times.
I needed to heal, so I found my breath.
I decided to create, so I erased all borders.
I wanted to laugh, so I learned to dance.
I hungered for adventure, so I rode an elephant. I aspired to fly, so I made wings.
This is Saïah
I am Saïah.


So much of your work is a mix of magical thinking and some inescapable darkness. Can you describe that special machine of magic and darkness? And do you think it is something everyone “has,” and at some level either struggles with or embraces, or is it something that surfaces only for a certain tribe of us?


Thank you for noticing.
Magic is the world which we don’t pay attention to, or happen to miss the moment we glance its way. Darkness, is the un-nerving realization of that moment lost.
What I follow—search for, is the truth. Truth in lives, grand gestures, moments, cracks, breaths. Once I get to the root of it, I look around and realize that it is soaked in mystery, genius, flawless connections from one soul to the next- but the journey to get there, required the breaking open of wounds that had been patched up decades ago.
My work comes from my own life’s work. The practice I uphold myself to- to heal the wounds of “the past.” Every single being on this planet suffers from the wounds caused from the past—Those wounds are perceived as a darkness. Most choose to settle into them, or perhaps struggle to face them. I have found in my life and work, that the key to reaching a higher truth is ripping those wounds, that darkness open, revealing it in the light of day and speak it, in truth. When Truth is revealed in all its darkening glory, therein lies the magic of it all.


Do you find your style evolving as you continue to design and produce, or do you want to continue to explore what I would call a postmodern mythos, with all its depths and complexity?


I have absolutely no interest in having a style or settling into something I am “known for.” My loyalty is only to the truth of the vision. If tomorrow the story asks to told via film or music, I will do what I can to bring it to its highest self.


Your work is so metaphorically real, going far afield to bring home crucial truths. Have you considered instead straight, traditional, theater, or does that seem too . . . outright and upfront?


My earlier work started out being more traditional- well, with influences such as Artaud, Jung, Sufism, it was still considered “experimental,” but I used more traditional standards.
The truth is that I don’t come from a traditional space in this world- nothing about my childhood, my education, my spirit, et cetera, was outright and upfront. I have always lived a life where I would very clearly witness “the normal lives of others,” but never really felt the urge to participate. And I believe when you come from that, it is buried in your bone tissue to be, or in this matter create from, a place that to the rest of the world seems “nontraditional.”


Do you have a process for beginning new work? Do you tend to plan or see it as New Work in a Certain Form, or do you just start writing and sketching?


I usually start with a very clear vision of a relationship I want to tell a story about. Then the journey goes inward and outwards at the same time. The deeper I explore who/why this relationship is, the outwards vision of what/ when/how starts to reveal itself. This is also where my partner and husband steps in. He will gather up all the intricate details I have been focusing on and see it all from a distance, creating an outline for a story. Sometimes I feel without him, I’d write and create in fragments. But both us create a full experience.


What is your current project?
When did you first know that you wanted to do this kind of work?


Our last production, TERMINUS, took me three years to compile together. So I am at a place where rather than rushing into another project, I am walking through the past a bit. For some reason, I feel I have unfinished business with a few of our last productions, so I am reworking them a bit. In the mean time, I am beginning to work on a new story, but it has a ways to go.
I have always known that I wanted to be someone who revealed the truth. My Mum says it comes from being the youngest in the family, because as the youngest you bear witness to all the lives around you—and eventually want to heal it all.
SAIAH is a place that allows me to do that in a healthy and creative manner. I am very grateful for that.


Who are you reading or viewing right now? Which writers, performances, and genres inspire you?


I am currently taking a break from feeding myself intellectually—I feel we need to be grounded in our own vision, to gather inspiration from other’s work. Currently, I am in a place where I am trying to attain “being grounded,” then the external feeding will come.
The past inspires me. Secrets, buried truths, wounds that need cracking open, inspire me. But most of all bravery inspires me.


You have created a community of followers and artists at SAIAH. Where do you find the intersections between that community-sustaining work and your new creative work, if you draw connections or lines? Is there significant bleed- through? Does one feed the other, or do you find that one takes energy the other needs?


If you are referring to our patrons: People want to witness courage. That is one truth I have realized in my few years of being alive. The work we create, every ounce of it, comes from “the edge of a cliff,” and they feel that. They are on board for that. And when the bar is set, we have their permission to jump, because they know we’ll be asking them to do the same.
As far as the artists we gather, per experience. We are very particular about who we work with. This is sacred work. We hand pick creators, visionaries, performers who are willing to uphold the highest vision of the story. With a community like that, we are fearless and limitless.


So I have to ask this question of everyone, but given your work, maybe especially you. If you could become a different animal, which animal would you be? And why?


I meditated on this and saw a Jaguar. This is what it means to see a Jaguar:
“The Jaguar’s medicine includes seeing the roads within chaos and understanding the patterns of chaos, moving without fear in the darkness, moving in unknown places, shape shifting, psychic vision, facilitating soul work, empowering oneself, reclaiming power … gatekeeper to the unknowable.”

I’ll take it.


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