Ashley Macias on Palabra Collective, Inspiration, and Hook

Phoenix artist Ashley Macias with her work in her shared studio space.EXPAND
Phoenix artist Ashley Macias with her work in her shared studio space.
Mikey Estes

What happens in the studio, shouldn’t always stay in the studio. Studio Visit Q+A is a weekly series that profiles artists in their studios. We ask them questions, they provide answers, and then we have a nice discussion about their work. This week: Phoenix artist and member of Palabra Hair Art Collective Ashley Macias.

Since Ashley Macias has been back in Phoenix for the past few years, she’s been a staple of the art scene. As part of the Palabra Collective, Macias has exhibited her work in several exhibitions. Now, she and fellow collective member Josh Brizuela are preparing for an exhibition that will take place next month in Los Angeles with Lost Hills, a salon/gallery hybrid similar to Palabra. New Times visited her studio that she shares with Brizuela and two other artists (Yai and Tyson Crank) to discuss her work.

Macias is getting pretty busy in preparation for her upcoming exhibition. Like many other artists, she prefers to only exhibit new work. These big ambitions might cause her to rip her hair out, but at least the outcome is always fresh. Macias is a young artist who doesn’t have a formal art education, so working with the collective and having a prolific artistic output is her way of learning and growing as an artist. 

Macias has always had an interest in art and illustration, but it wasn’t until recently when she decided it was something she needed to do for herself. Now that she’s beginning to develop her aesthetic, she’s taking her time and seeing how her work naturally develops. “I feel like I’m going through a lot of transitions in my work,” Macias says. She has aspirations to expand her work into sculpture, but wants the progression to be natural. For now, she’s sticking to her organic process for making work — letting the work flow out of her or getting deeply involved in bringing a quick sketch to a larger scale.

Macias's studio desk with a current work in progress.EXPAND
Macias's studio desk with a current work in progress.
Mikey Estes

Macias’ work has a lot to do with connecting the inner self to things outside of the self — nature, the cosmos, existence. Macias herself describes it as a “bittersweet beauty that revolves around the chaos of life and death...it’s all that concept of going above ourselves, out of ourselves, out of this reality basically.” There’s a neo-surrealist quality to what Macias does, but it’s infused with elements that feel mythical and spiritual. The characters that Macias invents tell a story and we complete that story with our own impressions of the work.

Tell us about your work in haiku format.
Flowing organically into abyss, Life
Death feeds beneath the stars, breathe consciousness
The infinite chaos, My solitude.

What artist(s) are you really into right now?
I am currently fascinated by the Low Bros & artist Saner Edgar. Both offer a very unique style. So much culture and dimensions. Truly mind blowing. There are so many artists thriving, it becomes more difficult to keep up with what's going on. I feel like every other artist on the rise is better than the last which inspires me to push forward.

Some of Macias's small ink works.EXPAND
Some of Macias's small ink works.
Mikey Estes

What are you reading?
Center of the Cyclone by John C. Lilley. Great read on consciousness & inner space. It's all about his journey with his psyche and how experimentation and understanding of oneself is important to further intelligence and facing the unknown. It's a old read but just as equally current today more then ever.

What's the last TV show, film, or video you watched?
I am usually distracted with my art projects. If I recall I last played Hook on VHS and giggled the whole time. Hook on VHS was childhood, a truly wonderful experience for me.

If you could collaborate with any artist, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
There's a few artists I could count on one hand alone I would want to pick brains with but although there is so much brilliance within each and every single one, I still find myself super attracted to Salvador Dali. It might seemingly be cliche to choose this already hugely recognized artist but he's that image for a very good reason and I couldn't imagine a greater creative party then melting into the strange elements of existence with him while discussing his pet anteaters' strange eating habits.

What was the last exhibition you saw and what did you think of it?
The last exhibition I saw was Pyramid Country at Palabra Hair. Art. Collective. J.J. Horner is a talented local artist here in Arizona who has been wonderfully productive in the skate scene. His art was a super fun experience.

A chandelier that Macias designed backed with the studio's Gaudi-inspired interior.EXPAND
A chandelier that Macias designed backed with the studio's Gaudi-inspired interior.
Mikey Estes

Upcoming Events

Jeff Koons or Marina Abramovic? and why?
Marina Abramovic hands down. She's magnificent. Bravery in her weaknesses and pushes emotional and physical boundaries that I can connect with. I absolutely adore performance art. I believe some of the greatest artists emerge themselves into their art through the most difficult transformations. She evokes something more meaningful to me overall.

What's the best advice you've ever received?
The best advice comes from within myself, I'm constantly pushing myself to be more perceptive and transformative in the building blocks of my work. The most important is following my heart and painting being the result.

What are you currently working on?
My most current project is just around the corner. On July 11 I will be collaborating with a fellow artist Josh Brizuela in Los Angeles at The Lost Hills. They are teaming up with Palabra Art Collective to showcase for a one night only event. I have been spending most of my days in the studio preparing all new work and I am super excited to share all new works with fresh eyes.

What's your most valued tool as an artist?
My heart and my mind are the greatest asset to creating my work.

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