Lace + Leghair Exhibition Photo | Photo: Oliver Twirl

Ash Adams

By Meghan Power

“As a trans nonbinary artist, I explore themes of identity, gender, the body and evolution through immersive exhibitions,” explains Ash Adams. “I recently received a grant from Calgary Arts Development (CADA) to develop and present my solo exhibition Lace + Leghair: A Euphoric Exploration of Gender Outside the Binary, where I created artworks about my transition. Lace + Leghair explores thoughts and conversations surrounding transitioning, growth, change, choices, and mortality through the lens of euphoria and humour. In the process of creating Lace + Leghair I realized I’m ready to take my art to the next level.”

Adams graduated from the Alberta College of Art + Design in 2018, with a BFA majoring in ceramics. They are currently based in Mohkinsstsis (Calgary) and are an educator and advocate for 2SLGBTQIA+ rights and artists with disabilities. They are also a co-founder of Superbloom Collective, a collective that focuses on “creating empathetic and connective artworks and pedagogies through public art, mural work, and the facilitation of workshops.” And one of 10 artists that make up the Basic Income Calgary Arts Collective, which advocates for the Artists with Disabilities (AWD) community. 


Much of their recent work expresses ideas around choices and mortality as well as identity and the body. Adams describes Lace + Leghair as an immersive exhibition “I explore concepts of gender through acrylic paintings, mixed media sculptural tableaux and murals. I use my expertise in ceramics to cast parts of my body to manipulate ideas and tell stories. I want my work to overwhelm and hypnotize the viewer. I work with re-rendered collage as a primary subject matter and using acrylic paints, arrange objects on explosive coloured backgrounds. The backgrounds create an optical illusion, and manipulating my references allows me to influence the narrative.” 


Adams worked with a team of other artists and creators to help them realize their vision for Lace + Leghair: “A team of other artists and creators came together to help me realize my creative vision. We collaborated on artworks including the complex task of life casting my own breasts, later used in a sculptural tableau. Five friends gathered in my kitchen to painstakingly plaster, cast and form the pieces as I had to hold still in an uncomfortable position for over an hour. We documented the ongoing artistic process with live polaroids. These polaroids were then displayed on a wall in the Lace + Leghair exhibition to show people the behind-the-scenes work required to create the show. This ended up being a popular installation because people like to see the inner workings of the creative process.” 


“Funding opportunities like the Individual Project Grant benefit me as an artist by allowing me to dedicate time to my practice and create meaningful works of art. I intend to continue my exploration of immersive gallery spaces through detailed works and removable wall coverings, allowing me to integrate the surfaces of the gallery into the installation. And inviting the audience to fully immerse themselves in the colourful, stimulating, vibrating experience.”