Recent BFA alumni from San Francisco Art Institute, MFA Alumni of Montclair State University. Recently moved to Manhattan.
Ashli Sisk Depending on how they exist in the world at the current moment, and their trajectory in relationship to their extinction, I paint my subjects as they would exist after generations of breeding in zoos and conservation programs – bred for their most iconic traits, general beauty and spectacle, and overall tractability. By exaggerating the animals’ features, these caricatures represent how wild animals that exist only in captivity will eventually become augmented versions of themselves. This questions the preservation of species, and exposes our deeply flawed approach to conservation. The replication of rare animals in mediums or breeding programs examines the various ways human animals deal with animal extinction. Once an animal is extinct, it exists only in mediums (stories, art film etc.), is not subject to mortality, and thus enters the realm of fantasy. As we abstract them from reality, they become like the dodo, once an extant flightless bird, unceremoniously replaced by the talking Dodo of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The framing elements have several purposes, and if a painting is of a body, the frame is a coffin that contains the body and attempts to preserve it as it was. The frame also mirrors the boundaries around animals that are put into zoos and conservancies, the appearance of a natural environment made of fiberglass, paint, and fake plants dissolving into the railings and gorilla glass that separate humans and animals. Humans transport animals and fine art objects all over the world under armed guards to protect their commodity as it reaches its destination, and then they are displayed at a price, whether it is in a zoo or a fine art museum. We choose the iconic and the beautiful, framed on the marquee, to win the interest and attendance of the viewer. The work negotiates a disappearing natural world in terms of rare artwork and artifacts that ultimately reflects humanity’s struggles with mortality, organizing each on a timeline according to their expiration date, or the date in which they become something that only exists behind glass, where they are manipulated to be what we think they should be. I am making a taxonomy of the natural world as it exits, layering the ridiculous with a sincere sub-current of sympathetic magic no different than a cave painting. Ancient people put more animals on the cave wall in hopes of their proliferation and for a good hunt. I make animals into artwork, and I draw parallels to the fine art museum world and the world of the zoo and natural history museum, in hopes of fostering more realistic strategies than our current ones to preserve the natural world.
- Corel Painter