Segullah: What are your sources of inspiration?
Ashmae: In my art, I am inspired by process, by working through a thought or problem in image, symbol, metaphor and color. I am inspired by the incredible artists around me, both physically and what I have access to on the internet. As a mormon, I feel especially lucky to be surrounded by other female mormon artists who are working so hard and take their craft seriously.
Segullah: How has your work evolved over time and experience?
Ashmae: My work has taken so many different paths, and I don’t necessarily see one as better or more important than another. I tend to work in series, sets and projects that allow me to really engage with an idea until I feel like I’ve been able to work through a lot of angles. Art for me is a medium for thought. The tangibility of the process coupled with the quiet, introspective time it takes to make art is really useful for me. Often what I think about during that time as I work through different ideas in paintings and drawings are also what I end up writing about, so they really fuel each other.
Segullah: What do you want others to take or feel from your work?
Ashmae: It feels really important to me to be upfront about not having all of the answers and not giving an audience the impression that they’ve come to my work to find a particular answer. I hope that my work creates a space for thought that seems generous and open. I hope my work feels to the viewer like what it feels to me: an honest and sincere exploration into an idea or theme. I want people to trust their intuition and wandering when they come to my work. I hope they feel that there is someone on the other side who is trying just like them to find beauty, make sense of the world and stand up to things that aren’t right in the world.
Segullah: How do you feel that your faith is reflected in your work?
Ashmae: At this point, although I don’t usually paint anything overtly religious, I’ve found that my process feels directly linked to my spiritual life. I feel more open and able to be moved by the spirit when I’m actively making things. Many of the ideas that are a part of my spiritual life are inextricably connected to the questions I end up asking in my art making. Right now I am working on a series about the body and I see many of the tenets of Mormonism popping up as I work. I ask myself what it means to have a body, to think about a Heavenly Mother with a body like mine, what am I to do with my body, how my own view and perception of my body play into my spiritual life. My faith will always be a part of what I do because the ideas and questions of the theology I’ve grown up with and continue to study will always fuel the most intrinsic parts of me.
Segullah: Please share how you find time and space to create your art.
Ashmae: For the past couple of years I’ve actually really struggled to find both a space and time to make art. A couple of months ago I knew my spirit was wilting a little for lack of a space to create. We live in a very small student apartment and so I took a couple of weeks really taking inventory of what I actually wanted and needed in this space. One morning I had this little vision of me sitting at a desk in a corner of my bedroom with my art supplies. I got rid of some things I thought we needed and cleared out a desk and a corner and since then, I feel like I’ve come back to myself. I’ve realized that I need a little space, no matter how small, that is exclusively for the purpose of making. Some days I find an hour to sit down and work and some days I stay up late or get up early to work and some days I just sneak away while kids play in another room and work for 30 minutes. Having a space dedicated to working through ideas is essential for me in my work as an artist.
Segullah: How does your art function with and apart from your writing?
Ashmae: More and more the two function directly in connection with one another. The art I like making best and that seems most meaningful and useful is the art that is asking the same questions that my writing does. I don’t feel like either is in the business of giving me, or the people who look at or read my work, direct or conclusive answers. Correct and “right” answers are not usually what I’m seeking and so both the writing and the art can perform the visible function of process. Process, for me, is what my spirituality is made of. I love that I feel trusted and empowered to engage with my own process and feel like God and the spirit are a part of that.
Segullah: What do you find empowering about being an artist?
Ashmae: I love that being an artist allows me a space to connect with people. I love to be able to create events, gatherings and projects around my art work. My art functions as a sort of capital for me in the world. It allows me to go outside of myself, say things and ask questions that may be harder to do just as me. It gives me a way to make friends, have meaningful interactions, be a social activist and advocate for ideas that are important to me.
Segullah: Please share your artist statement or purpose here:
Ashmae: As an artist I attempt to make work that is first and foremost, honest. I work in series rather than in single paintings so that I can better follow the thoughts that come as I work. I want to make work that allows the viewers a space to ponder, re-consider and think without judgement of where they end up. I love color and the feelings a palette can invoke. I work in different mediums because it allows me to consider different possibilities and ideas.