12 January 2024
Ashley Garrett threads connections
between landscape and self
by Kate Mothes
“The landscape is urgently calling for our attention, asking us to care for it,” says Ashley Garrett, whose gestural oil paintings recall the visions and sensations of walking through rural areas near where she lives and works in Upstate New York. Tuned in to damage that humans have wrought on the environment, she considers sustaining our emotional, physical, and spiritual connection to nature to be the most significant key to preserving it.
“My paintings are not literal depictions of landscape; they evolve from perceiving and experiencing physical aspects of place through marks and color,” Garrett says. Through swift brushstrokes and a vibrant palette, she describes them as “opening up” to feelings and connections to the land through the language of abstraction, evoking a certain kind of light or an interplay between blossoms and foliage that are blurred as they are in memory. She adds, “My focus is developing an empathy of the landscape that expands beyond human-centered perspectives.”
In some paintings, the suggestion of a vista spreads out beyond a tousle of foliage, while in others, the intimate and delicately chaotic layers of nature unfurl. Expressionistic brushstrokes mirror what could be the trails of insects, the patter of animals, or the artist’s own movements or thoughts, rendered in spring-like pastels and, occasionally, more urgent shades. They capture an internal experience, “where we breathe and feel from,” Garrett says. “The paintings have an evolving sense of movement, mirroring energetic movements like breathing and light flickering, evoking memories and a sense of place, familiarity, and belonging.”
All images © Ashley Garrett