We don’t all come to photography in the same way. Many of us find our photographic passions after we have lived a little. Ash is one of those photographers. Coming from from a very industrial blue collar background where 9-5 was valued more than education, he worked his way through college doing freelance graphic work. He then turned to sculpture, creating functional pieces from old machines (ars ex machina). He’s a wanderer, zigzaging across the US and New Zealand, and currently wandering about Michigan with an old Nikon FE in his hands.
Much of his work revolves around things left behind, objects and places abandoned and transformed by the passage of time. His series, Toy Box, looks at objects once loved and coveted by their adolescent owners that have taken on new incarnations. Rather than put the objects in context within the setting, he choses to take a close look at the faces and hands that once generated comfort and pleasure.
I focus a great deal on abandonment and loss in my work. About 2 years ago I found a doll on a child’s grave and realized I’d been stepping over similar memento mori for a long time. I started to focus on those items left on graves. The Toy Box series is exclusively toys on the graves of children. I find the duplicity of these things to be fascinating. I think beauty and grotesque, joy and pain, love and hate are so inextricably tied to one another that it’s impossible to find one without being haunted by the other. The overwhelming loss to these people has given rise to memorials that are exactly what they try to hide: something cute and adorable left to rot and turned grotesque. They rarely seem to return to pay homage, instead we’re left to find these haunting moments in their lives.