‘It was between the thing that I noticed and the other thing that I noticed that the thing that I didn’t notice went unnoticed’ by Ashley Stokols

Moosey, Norwich invites you to step into the world of ‘It was between the thing that I noticed and the other thing that I noticed that the thing that I didn’t notice went unnoticed’ by Ashley Stokols. Stokols (b.2002) is a Chicago-based paintress, currently studying at School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

“... It began with a mink scarf passed down to me by my grandmother that became a symbol of something, I’m hesitant to say womanhood, but maybe it’s like the biological responsibilities of womanhood. The fate of the mink is a tragic one, they’re bred for a purpose which they must fulfil that ultimately leads to their death, and it felt like a macrocosm or a microcosm for something that I feel. I was obsessed with hormones, the idea that a chemical in your body which you can’t control that is there for evolutionary survival could influence your thoughts and feelings was pretty disturbing to me. I wanted a way that I could know that my feelings were feelings and not chemicals, but obviously there isn’t a way because they are chemicals. So the minks are a relinquishing of control.

The mink is woman but it’s also personified like a boy and represents maybe an urge for companionship that isn’t my urge but is an urge in my dna that is passed down from human to human since the beginning of time. And of course this minkness is something that develops at a certain point in time, like a ticking bomb inside of your body which is set to detonate at some pre-teen age, so to think about the irreversible effects of hormones is also to think about your childhood and to subsequently try to discover exactly when the point that you became a woman was and also to kind of imagine what it would be like if you never changed at all. So for a lot of these mink paintings, instead of being mink paintings, they become monstrously large self-portraits in semi-imagined versions of my childhood home (which of course I’ve now mostly forgotten).

I was thinking of them as alternate universes, where if everything that I didn’t want to happen never happened and I grew, but I grew into a bigger version of a child instead of growing into something else entirely. So maybe these are an acceptance of the impossibility of that while also being an escapist method to make it so. They’re all about looking inward, but they also accept the absurdity of introspection in post-modern times; so the work has a built-in ironic failsafe, it actively pushes you away with its humour, protecting me from my own solipsism...”

Catch Ashley Stokols exhibition until March 9th, at Moosey in Norwich.