We recently had the opportunity to interview Fairgrounds St. Pete FLORIDARAMA Artist Ashley Cantero. She created two self-referential dioramas, Swamp Motel and Drive-In, that are fun and playful with a retro twist.
Ashley Cantero is a Tampa native and local artist who actively engages our local art scene. She has participated in many art shows and has a few murals in the Tampa area. Since her childhood, art has been a huge part of Ashley’s life and it continues to be. Her work is very much inspired by female forms, retro charm and the supernatural. She describes her work as dark, intricate, sensual and, at times, humorous. Ashley’s favorite way to create is at home with a cup of coffee, headphones, some lit candles and her dog Carmella.
Read on to learn more about what the experience of being part of our inaugural exhibit is like for her!
What do you want the public to take away from experiencing the FLORIDARAMA dioramas you have created for Fairgrounds St. Pete?
ASHLEY CANTERO: Feelings of curiosity and wonderment. I’d love the viewer to create their own narrative for the scenes I’ve created in my dioramas.
What about being a part of Fairgrounds St. Pete’s inaugural exhibition is most exciting to you?
AC: Mostly, I’m excited to be a part of such an ambitiously creative project involving soooo many incredible artists and creators. It’s really inspiring and just super cool!
What inspired your Fairgrounds St. Pete FLORIDARAMA?
AC: My dioramas were heavily inspired by vintage/retro/natural Florida. This can be seen in the mid-century modern inspired color palette I used as well as the themes happening in both scenes.
What is the most significant influence in your art practice?
AC: I am inspired by many things in my art practice so this is a difficult one for me to answer, but a big one is just being around other people who are creating things and to feed off and be inspired by that energy.
Besides Fairgrounds St. Pete, do you have an upcoming project you’d like to share?
AC: At the moment I’m working mostly in my studio just trying to experiment for the fun of it, so no big things planned at the moment. However, I am super stoked to be a part of the SHINE year 7 art exhibit coming this October!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
AC: I spent quite a few years in my early 20’s away from making art, mostly because I was under the false impression that there was no future in it. Wow, was I wrong. I wish so badly I would have never stopped, so I would tell my younger self to keep pushing, do what you love.
What is your favorite FL destination or landmark?
AC: The Tampa theatre, hands down. A true Florida treasure right in our backyard. I also LOVE any mid-century modern gems. Old beach motels, pastel colored buildings & homes, neon signs, retro drive-in movie theaters. Give me ALL of that!