Ashton S. Phillips is an interdisciplinary artist based in Los Angeles, working directly with the earth, water, pollution, and repair as primary materials. He was born near the sea in Boston, MA, but grew up in Charleston, West Virginia, aka “Chemical Valley.” Some of his earliest memories include watching the progression of the night sky from a starry black to a ghostly pink, as it filled with pollution from nearby chemical factories.
Ashton has maintained an eclectic, inquiry-driven, and process-oriented creative practice since childhood. From the beginning, this transdisciplinary approach has included intensive material research, assemblage, and improvisation. In college, Ashton literally dug up artifacts as an archaeology student, while studying metaphysics, cultural anthropology, and feminist and queer theory and praxis. He decided to go to law school after the Massachusetts Supreme Court issued Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the decision decreeing gay marriage legal under the state constitution. He practiced law as a civil prosecutor for the U.S. Department of Labor, focusing primarily on federal safety and health enforcement litigation and fiduciary duties, before transitioning to a full-time art practice in 2016.
Since 2016, Ashton’s interdisciplinary work has been featured in more than 40 exhibitions around the country, including recently, Rewilding Structures at the Torrance Art Museum, SoundPedro Schizophonia at Angels Gate Cultural Center, Out There – West Hollywood’s annual LGBT Pride show – at Gallery 825, and Art + Activism at SoLA Contemporary. His site-specific and public art installations include Reflections, a participatory sound and land art installation commissioned by the Glendale Arts and Culture Commission for Glendale Central Park in Glendale, CA, and Helios Rising at Positive Energy Solar in Albuquerque, NM. Ashton’s work is held in the permanent collection at the Museum of Encaustic Art in Santa Fe, NM, and the Santa Maria de Vid Norbertine Abbey in Albuquerque, NM, and in private collections across the United States. Ashton’s work has also been featured in the Santa Fe Reporter (“Mysterium”), Albuquerque – The Magazine (“Helios Rising”), the Gallup Independent (“Exposure” show), Asymmetric Magazine (“Dark Magic” Series), Art and Cake (“Living under Pandemic“), and ShoutOutLA Magazine.
He is a current MFA candidate in the Maryland Institute College of Art’s low-residency MFA in Studio Art program, where he is also teaching undergraduate students in the interdisciplinary sculpture, fibers, and ceramics programs. Ashton frequently speaks about his work, including recent talks hosted by the Torrance Art Museum, Art123 Gallery in Gallup, NM, and SoLA Contemporary. He also leads workshops, including an upcoming workshop on small-scale, urban farming and plant propagation for artists.