Doug Ashford

Associate Professor (Proportional-Time)

Doug Ashford is an artist, author and a teacher. He has worked as an educator in many settings: from public high school to graduate programs, professional seminars and community organizations. He has been part of The Cooper Union for more than twenty years, where he has taught 3-dimensional design, sculpture, and other courses and seminars. Since 1996 Ashford has organized the Interdisciplinary Seminar, a collaboratively run school-wide forum committed to the critical re-definition of visual practices.

In 1981 Ashford became a member of the artists’ collective Group Material, his principal art practice until 1996. Group Material produced over fifty exhibitions and public projects internationally, using museums and other public spaces as cultural arenas in which audiences were invited to imagine democratic forms. Prominent in this history are the exhibitions: The Castle (documenta 8, Kassel, Germany, 1987), Democracy (The Dia Art Foundation, New York, 1988) and AIDS Timeline (The Berkeley Art Museum 1989, Wadsworth Atheneum, 1990, The Whitney Museum, 1991). Group Material’s work in exhibition production, public cultural display, and the aesthetic mobilization of politics continue to affect the world of visual culture and other disciplines. The complete work of the group has recently been published in Show and Tell: A Chronicle of Group Material, (Julie Ault, ed. Four Corners Books, 2010). Since 1996, Ashford has gone on to make paintings, produce exhibitions and publish articles independently, with his creative labor primarily located in the classroom. His most recent publication is Who Cares (Creative Time, 2006), a book project built from a series of conversations between Ashford and an assembly of other cultural practitioners on public expression, beauty, and ethics. Recent exhibitions of paintings include the Sharjah Biennial 10, (2011) and Abstract Possible, Malmo Konsthall; Museo Tamayo and other locations (2010-12) and dOCUMENTA 13 (2012)

Projects & Links

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.