Inflatable Art is Blowing Up During the Shutdown


Chicago-based artist Claire Ashley recently enlisted her teens for an inflatable art show in their yard.

Her latest work: Extreme Protection Suits.

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“My work is really grounded in the idea of wanting to be as democratic as possible, so humor is an important place for me to draw people in and to think about entertainment and slapstick humor,” Ashley said.

“I think in terms of all the seriousness and the trauma that’s happening right now, I was interested in using humor as a way to deal with trauma. I think a lot of the time laughing is a welcome relief, right? Or is a way to get through hardship.”

The suits were made for a spring show at the Hyde Park Art Center, which has been postponed until August.

Born and raised in Scotland, Ashley teaches at the School of the Art Institute.

She’s been making large-scale inflatables for years — and sometimes makes videos of the works with unexpected songs.

“That monumentality in the work is built on the kind of desire to take up as much space as possible as a woman in the art world, right? And to really think about obnoxiousness and absurdity and over-the-top ridiculousness as part of its humor and part of its visibility,” Ashley said.

Follow Marc Vitali on Twitter: @MarcVitaliArts


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