Q, master of fine arts student, said her artwork is funny but sad. She wants viewers to contemplate where they came from and where they are now.

Fine Arts student adapts thesis for changing times

Q is known for her resilience; art features cats, contemplation

March 26, 2020

Ashley Quast, known as “Q,” said her art is a balance between whimsy and failed expectation — and her Master of Fine Arts thesis presentation is an example of just that. 

Q, who will graduate in May with a Master of Fine Arts from WSU, has been studying here for two years. Since completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts, Q said she has learned to trust her own hand to produce her art.

Her art reflects on where a person is now and where they have come from, she said. Q hopes viewers will be confronted with versions of their past self and think about what happened in between. 

Q said her art is both funny and sad. She creates many animals, most often cats.

“I just let my mind go wild and I don’t censor myself,” Q said. 

In order to complete her degree, Q designed a thesis presentation that included a giant cat head and other various animal creations. 

Q said she planned to perform alongside the pieces and activate bell sounds and various objects with her movement. At the end of the performance, Q would remove the head of a deer she made, place it on her own head and emerge as a different being.

Her work is tamer than she would like, she said. 

“Sometimes I wish I was more interesting,” Q said, “but I’ll get there someday.”

All the students in the MFA program, including Q, were, until recently, planning to showcase their work at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art during the spring semester. 

Then COVID-19 hit Washington. Following the new social distancing regulations put in place to prevent the spread of the virus, the museum closed. Q said she had to re-think her thesis. 

So, Q adjusted. She planned to take some of her created objects and travel to people’s homes, where she would perform in costume outside their front windows. The performances would all be by invitation or request.

“It’s like having a window to another world that you can enter into for a period of time,” Q said. 

Q performed outside houses for a few days before  Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay at home order, Q said. She was only able to perform outside a few houses. She has been making sure to frequently wash her hands, even though she does not have contact with humans or surfaces during her performance. 

Her last performances are on Thursday. Q said she has to complete her performances in order to finish her thesis and receive her degree.

Hallie Meredith, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Fine Arts, has worked with Q since her first semester at WSU. Meredith said Q is resilient and this is not the first time she has had to adapt an event because of uncontrollable circumstances. 

“She does not give up,” Meredith said. “Whatever form [this performance will] take is not clear, but she will do it and it will be very successful.”

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