“In my work I explore how politics, media and popular culture influence the behavior of American people. The two party system has the power to unite a profound number of people, while at the same time creating a sharp divide in our society. Identity politics breeds hostility, leaving us to spar and battle with each other. I believe America has a unique culture, one that is shaped by its colonial past and greatly influenced by our cut-throat capitalist system. Politics have always been a source of inspiration, I try to channel these opinions into expressions of art I see art as a powerful vessel through which I can process contemporary issues facing Americans. Through printmaking processes and drawings I make biting criticisms and irreverent commentary about the current state of affairs. I use antagonizing and feverish colors to evoke an emotional response. I will juxtapose surrealist imagery with political and social commentary in order to make an abstracted statement. America is caught in a continual paradox of low and high moral grounding. While being a shining beacon of hope and a leader in the international community, America has committed countless atrocities at home and abroad. American society is narcissistic, selfish, lazy and obsessed with one’s own image. We value charisma and emotional appeal over morality and intelligence. My work aims to make scathing comments in order to reveal issues that are often glanced over.”
Cartoon, colorful, Flat Color, Graphite Drawing, Pastel Chalk Drawing, Political Commentary, Politics, Pop, Printmaking, Social Commentary, Surrealism
Byron Ashley received his Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in Printmaking at Kansas State University. While at Kansas State University, Byron was part of a National Endowment of the Arts Undergraduate Research Grant that aimed to change printmaking through electrochemical etching. He was also a member of Prairie Fire Printmakers, a printmaking club at Kansas State University.
Byron Ashley has exhibited his work at the Living Democracy exhibition, in the Kemper Union Gallery at Kansas State University. Byron has also shown work at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in the show, Interim. During the month of November 2020, Byron showed his work in a group show, Tangled Roots, at an online gallery through InterUrban Arthouse.
At both the 2018 and 2019 Southern Graphics Council International Conferences, Byron exhibited his work. In the summer of 2021 Byron will be interning with Island Press at Washington University, St. Louis, and will intern at Flatbed Press in Austin, TX at the end of the year. During the summer of 2019, Byron interned at Anderson Ranch Arts Center. In the summer of 2018, he was an intern at Constellation Studios, where he worked with artist and UNL professor Karen Kunc.
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