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Giselle Hicks in Helena, Montana

Once upon a time, it was nearly impossible to have a creative career without immersing yourself in the artistic community of a large metropolitan area. But with the ease and connectivity that comes with living in the golden age of the Internet, it’s become more and more common to see people working in places most would consider more than a bit off the beaten path. Take ceramicist Giselle Hicks: In 2011, after completing an artist-in-residency program at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana, Hicks relocated to Philadelphia for a six-month stint and found that she wasn’t cut out to live the big city lifestyle. “The city felt like an obstacle course. It overwhelmed me. I felt like I was just keeping my head above the water," she remembers. "I longed for the big sky, open spaces, and the beauty and ease of life in Montana. I love the culture and diversity and opportunities a big city has to offer, but in my daily life and studio practice I need quiet and lots of space to grow and evolve."
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Eric Ashcraft, Artist

A Montana-born artist with an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Eric Ashcraft is an expert in mining dualities for his mixed media pieces. In his earlier work, painted still-lifes were framed by neon bulbs, junked-out TVs became a canvas for Thomas Kinkade-like paintings, and a couch cushion turned into a lightbox. In his more recent work, though, Ashcraft seems to be blurring the lines among media even more with a series of abstract shapes in wood painted with oil and acrylic. "I began the Polytopes series by experimenting with geometrical forms, attempting to create a flexible object-space where the languages of painting and sculpture could intermingle," says the artist. "The restricted correspondence of light, surface, form, color, line, perspective, and composition are used to abstract objects and images into one another, hopefully generating meaning for a viewer through associations with fundamental aspects of perception. Essentially, the polytopes are about what they are as objects and how they are experienced." See more after the jump, and then click here for the up-and-coming artist's whole portfolio.
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