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Cultured Magazine: Growing Underground with Kelly Akashi ('06)

Kelly Akashi
Travis Diehl

"On a coffee table littered with shaped glass, long spills of wax and a plaster impression of a hand, rests a sweet potato past its prime. Long sprouts stretch like fingers from its wrinkled rust-brown skin, fading from red to yellow to green at the leafy tips. “I’m not sure what to do with it,” says artist Kelly Akashi of the baroque spud. “A photographer was in here and thought I should just photograph it. But, I’m not convinced.”

It’s an understandable dilemma: the unmediated potato already fits right in among the lumpy, bodily, slick, stringy and bright objects covering nearly every surface of Akashi’s studio. The artist is known for casting her own hands and fingers in fleshly transubstantiations of bronze, wax and silicone, and for intertwined taper candles, in gradients of vibrant taffy hues, their wicks sometimes tied in nautical or macramé braids. In preparation for her solo show at SculptureCenter this September, table and floor are covered with knobby blown glass globe-and vase-like, sometimes tuberous forms in dozens of colors—opal, amber, milky gold and cloudy seafoam volumes, pulled and folded to translucence."

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Image: Kelly Akashi. Photo by Cayetano Ferrer; courtesy artist and Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles.