I am pleased to be featuring some amazing woman artists in the next few weeks because they all are having solo show openings on September 5th…the first to be featured is illustrator/artist, Ashley Pierce. Soon to follow will be Stephanie Rond and Christine Guillot Ryan!
Walter Herrmann has so often been my go-to guy for the names of movers and shakers in the Columbus art scene. So when he told me that I should interview Ashley Pierce, I thought I better jump on it! Then it seemed that she and I kept running into each other at local events and a friendship began. And since she is having a solo show in the fall, this seemed like a great time to feature her!
Ashley is a Columbus native who never thought that she would stay here but she has grown to love her hometown over the years. Luckily for us, she doesn’t think she could ever leave her friends and the art scene that has grown along with her.
Although she has no formal fine art training outside of high school classes, she has surrounded herself with creative folks that have inspired and encouraged her natural talents. As Art Director for a large non-profit providing services to adults with physical and developmental disabilities, she gets to use her creative talents daily. However, her goal is to be recognized as an artist, first and foremost.
She has shared a studio with her best friend and studio mate AJ Vanderelli for years. They’ve moved around a bit… and many times because she gave up on her art/not wanting a studio outside of home. However, AJ, being the great friend she is, convinced her otherwise and pushed Ashley to keep creating. ‘She would constantly take my art out of the trash and hang it in her house or around the studio.’ AJ has been a huge driving force on Ashley’s creative path and led them to settle into a studio at 400 West Rich a couple years ago. Although she tends to work mainly at her dining room table, she loves being at 400 and interacting with the others artists there.
When asked to categorize her art, she stated:
I find it very difficult to categorize my art. I tend to gravitate towards Folk Art, Naive Art and Outsider Art but I’m not sure if I really fit into any one of those categories. I create pen and ink illustration but also utilize watercolor, colored pencil and a dremel. I suppose I am a mixed media artist although my work might not be what one expects when they hear that. So to answer your question, I have no idea.
Inspiration comes from everyday life: People, emotions, challenges, struggles, and every once in awhile unusual and funny experiences are portrayed in her work. It is all very personal although it might not seem that way because of how I represent these things. The majority of my work is actually self portraits.
Local artists and friends play a huge role in her inspiration. She feels very fortunate to be surrounded by extremely talented artists every day, in both her work place and personal life. In addition to creating, she loves collecting the works of local artists. When she looks around her home, she is constantly encouraged by their stories and talent.
Her 10 year old son, Harvey, also provides lots of feedback on her work. He’s great about pointing out things that look out of place, weird or need more work. ‘When I finish a piece he often offers a view that is a complete surprise and makes me look at the piece in a new way.’ He is also quite the art collector (mom is actually quite jealous of his collection!) His favorite artist is Derek Stewart and mom recently had a commission done for him by Derek. ‘He was beside himself when I presented it to him and I hope that his passion for collecting continues.’ And I hope that some day soon, I get to meet this little man and feature HIM on my blog!
Ironically, she did not consider herself to be an artist for a very long time but with the support and encouragement of other artists, she is finally confident enough to claim that title.
I have been creating since I was old enough to wield a crayon, it’s just taken me a while to recognize the importance of allowing myself to find my style without pushing it and just letting it happen naturally. Once I stopped comparing myself to others everything fell in place.
Finding new mediums and tools as well as finding new and unique ways to use them, keeps her art fresh and inspires incorporation into new works. Since the majority of her work is illustration on wood, she utilizes a dremel for pattern and texture. This technique clicked one day while using this tool for sculpture. Since then she’s burned through several dremels! However, she loves this part of her process … it’s her favorite step and last thing she does to a piece.
It’s very important to me that the viewer is able to look at my work and know that there is a story and meaning behind it. It’s the ultimate success when someone can relate to a piece and it speaks to them or creates a dialog with the viewer.
When asked about how she would like to see her art evolve, she was very honest. Initially, she was very stressed out about this whole ‘future’ business when a friend and artist she greatly admires told her that she needed to stop psyching herself out and just simply focus on making work. It was great advice and that is what she’s been doing ever since! Being surrounded by amazingly talented and successful artists who are always willing to take the time to give advice and critiques, allows her to continue growing and evolving as an artist.
Ashley has shown her work in several group shows but beginning September 5th, she will have her first solo exhibit of her works at the Lindsay Gallery!!! Woot! The opening reception for this will be 6-9 p.m. and, of course, she would love to see as many folks out there as possible!! You will definitely see me out there to support this lovely lady as she launches her solo career.