MISS EXPANDING UNIVERSE
By SPECIWOMEN Photography RUBY ROSE
Tell us about yourself.
Miss Expanding Universe was the fattest baby of the month at the Seattle Children's Hospital. The product of a Chinese immigrant and a white polygamist from Fort Scott, Kansas, Ashtray has been a performance artist since the day she was ruthlessly shoved out of the safety of her mother’s womb. She works in a wide range of media, from paintings to erotic poetry to coloring book memoirs to constipated dinosaur impressions.
How did you first get into art?
I originally planned to study creative writing, but after being rejected from the Kenyon College creative writing class, I took an art class. Art ended up becoming an extension of the same muscle. I was lucky enough to have wonderful mentors that believed in me through all of my bad art, big attitude, and frequent stomping fits.
What are your favorite materials to use?
Typically I work with oil paint, but I've also used pom poms, gem stones, terracotta warriors, glitter, electric toothbrushes, doritos and sticky notes as a medium. I often become disenchanted with the inherent value and historical burden that comes with oil paint, so I have to have outbursts via other materials every once in a while. Lately, I have adopted a nomadic artist lifestyle, primarily working on poetry, performance art, self-help, & aerobics.
What places allow you to feel the most creative?
Art isn’t made in ideal circumstances. Some of my best work arose out uncomfortable spaces… out of hurt or sheer boredom or both… Art often happens while I am supposed to be doing something else or when I feel like I ought to be in a body that’s not mine. Creativity is the antidote to despair; it is cultivating the readiness to laugh and the willingness to accept honest tears.
What’s one thing that you’d like to know how to do?
Maybe one day I’ll master telepathy.
Where do you draw the most inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from experience. My work is very personal. It allows me turn the ugly, the mundane, my shame, the stuff that wants to crush me into something beautiful, and nothing else can give me that sense of agency and perspective, that ability to forgive myself and others.
What is your practice meaning to you?
My practice is fundamentally about aligning the beat of my heart to the pulse of the universe.
Any tips for aspiring artists?
Make work! Let it be bad! The only thing that will stop you from being an artist is that crippling, self-editing voice in your head that fears making bad art. So make it a goal to make terrible art!
How are you aiming to make your imprint as a woman in the art world?
Oh my gosh. In every other job I am a woman. As an artist I am becoming myself.