Velvet Glove
Velvet Glove

Shadow Is Not Your Shadow

By Abby King

Midden detail, Astrid Bowlby, 2017. Lithograph AP, edition of 20, printed by Petrichor Press, printer Peter Haarz 30" x 44-3/4' framed. 

I am making utterly utilitarian objects that I view as containers that are as useful as laundry baskets or buckets. I put what I need in them and my responsibility is to leave enough room for other people (viewers, my community writ large and small, people on Mars who excavate thousands of years from now, maybe even someone time traveling from the past to the present, a passing animal…) to put what they need in there as well.

Oven Mitt, Astrid Bowlby, 2017, Fabric and paint, 108' x 70."

The above text is a snippet from Astrid Bowlby’s exhibition text, When the Shadow is Not Your Shadow, at Arcadia University with Marginal Utility gallery. As it suggests, the artist gazes at the world through a utilitarian lens; works are carved spaces for the maker and her audience to project themselves. This idea feels akin to the cave paintings and Keith Haring subway scrawls Bowlby mentioned in a recent artist talk, markings left on a wall to be interpreted by whoever stumbles upon them. Shadow was posed as a group exhibition made by one person, a curatorial framework that complements the diverse body of works Bowlby has cultivated in her years in Philadelphia.

I sat with the artist to learn what lead her to this point. Through paths of pedagogy, different art worlds, and into the circuitous ways Bowlby thinks, we meandered along the personal road map she's created for herself.



Below is a slideshow of Bowlby's work through the years. Images courtesy of the artist and graciously sent by curators David Dempewolf and Yuka Yokoyama.


Bonus Material: Listen to a list of Astrid's influences and what she has in store for herself next.