DETROIT, Mich. — Hey, denizens of the art world, let’s take a moment to consider the radical implications of chilling the fuck out for a minute. First stop: LANK LIMP LEMONS SUCK at Youngworld, where Claire Ashley’s installations of brightly colored, large-scale, abstract inflatables set a playful tone for good times. Do I sound a bit chilled out? It’s possible that I have not quite recovered. It is further possible that I don’t particularly want to.
Can art be challenging and also a good time? Can it teach us something about loving self-acceptance? I believe Ashley’s work can. She says to me:
I am interested in creating democratic access to my work by utilizing a deliberately egalitarian and generous collection of humorous, visceral, and empathetic connections between the viewer and the object (bounce houses, cartoons, bright color, forms that people want to hug), and formal entry points for multiple communities to engage with the work (desire to make a seriously beautiful surface through abstract painting and an intriguingly complex form through monumental sculpture).
Sounds challenging! And yet, entering Youngworld’s sizable warehouse space, filled to the brim with Ashley’s inflatables — every surface finished in shimmering 1980s bright colors — triggers a desire for exactly the kind of physical and emotional encounters she describes. It’s hard to contain a visceral and childish urge to run, jump, burrow into, and bounce against the structures, which are all named in Dr. Seuss-style alliterations (e.g. “slumpydumpy” and “the three amigos: slugger, peely-wally, and nubbin’”).