Ashley Macias at all times knew she wished to be an artist. She bought her first works — pencil drawings of aliens — for 25 cents to her grade-school classmates throughout recess. At this time, the self-taught artist nonetheless makes use of imagery from different life varieties, however now her fashion is influenced by people, animals and plant organisms — issues present in nature — and it may be discovered on a a lot grander scale all through downtown Phoenix.
Macias’ fantastical artwork, a mixture of psychedelic and summary shapes and symbolism, resides someplace between the cosmos and planet earth, a dream-state artistic house the place she feels most snug. Eyes are a key factor in her work, as a result of they symbolize the search for introspection.
“I just like the embodiment of capturing issues as they’re, and dealing them into how I understand them. I like to control fundamental actuality and the concepts of phantasm and perspective as a result of it won’t imply the identical factor to a different particular person. That’s thrilling to me,” says Macias, who was named Phoenix Journal’s Better of the Valley: Surrealist for 2020. “Artwork is for everybody and may affect individuals in several methods. It helps increase our actuality.”
Born in Laguna Nigel, California, and raised in Tucson and Phoenix, Macias credit dwelling downtown and dealing extra critically on her artwork for the previous 10 years along with her current success. As a full-time artist, she’s explored a wide range of supplies — resembling acrylics, spray paint and ink — and mediums together with illustrations, combined media and, extra noticeably, murals and avenue artwork that may be discovered all through in downtown Phoenix, particularly the Roosevelt Row Arts District.
She was commissioned to create a sprawling rooftop deck mural on the Cambria Hotel Downtown Phoenix Convention Center — which sits reverse iconic Phoenix sunsets every night. One other large-scale solo challenge, a mystical Mexican creature known as an alebrije, wraps across the partitions of Paz Cantina. She additionally collaborated on the larger-than-life “Arizona” mural wall on The Insurgent Lounge live performance venue’s north aspect, and her newest piece will add “a splash of components, coloration and varieties” to the forthcoming dance-inspired ambiance of Business PHX, a brand new bar that’s on observe to open for take-out later this yr within the Melrose District.
Moreover, her work is at the moment featured on merchandise bought by Support Phoenix Artists, a challenge that was launched this yr to assist fund future murals within the Valley. Hila Lanciano, a Phoenix-based jewellery maker who can be Macias’ roommate, is spearheading the trouble.
“It’s a neighborhood collaboration,” Macias says, “a platform that can, finally, be very useful in shedding mild on native expertise.”
Whereas Macias doesn’t essentially really feel her portfolio of labor makes any single political or social assertion, one theme her artwork does embrace is inclusivity. As a queer, Hispanic girl, Macias understands what it’s prefer to be a member of marginalized communities that face racial and social injustices.
“My artwork comes from a non secular place. In some methods, my private experiences tie to my work — in a really metaphysical, cosmic approach; how we develop and regrow in a broader sense,” she explains. “I attempt to make artwork that’s extra clear to everybody. I make daring statements in methods that aren’t so apparent. It’s principally interpretation.”
In spring 2020, Macias had the chance to convey her help and advocacy for social justice as one in every of six artists who contributed to a Black Lives Matter mural at Third Road and McKinley, behind Lacuna Kava Bar. Macias’ portion of the mural is a raised fist wrapped in a rainbow ribbon.
“Peoples’ place and roles in society are being challenged when they’re simply making an attempt to be who they’re,” says Macias of the BLM challenge. “It may be troublesome for anybody who’s outlined as [other]. It felt private to face with people with completely different tales and ache, and struggle for one thing better. It issues to me.”
In response to Macias, working with different native artists on collaborative tasks, like this one, helps her study to mildew types and take in new methods of creating artwork — views she could not encounter engaged on solo tasks.
“It’s essential we’re encouraging expression within the arts and motivating artistic atmospheres,” she says. “Public murals inform a narrative, they’ve a profound influence on neighborhood and provide thrilling new comprehensions to the world round us.”
Macias’s paintbrush is one voice amongst a palette of artists who’ve introduced the tradition and historical past of Phoenix to the forefront of the dialog by turning partitions, companies and alleyways into canvases.
“Sharing numerous views — and brightening in any other case bland partitions — bridges the gaps between our neighboring communities and connects us,” she says. “We’re sending a message out of magnificence and it represents new concepts and it represents potentialities. There’s one thing actually magical occurring right here.”