Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Portfolio Showcase Artists: Ashley Kauschinger

Leaving behind family and friends to move cross-country can be hard, but for Ashley Kauschinger it led to inspiration. In her series Hot Skin, Kauschinger expresses the mixed emotions present in exploring a new environment with the romanticized view of the past. While navigating her own move from Atlanta, Georgia to small town Texas, she realized that she was presented with a creative opportunity. “It felt like a crucial time to start investigating memories of my past, my relationships, and my present discoveries of everyday life. I think the project naturally evolved, as I understood myself, my environment, and what I wanted to share as the series grew.”

                                         Self-portrait Without You

Remembrances and discoveries are certainly clear in this series. Images such as Self-portrait Without You and On Your Birthday present a juxtaposition between longing for the familiar while simultaneously exploring a new surrounding and identity. Much of these emotions come from Kauschinger’s writing, which she uses to explore ideas before shooting.

"My photographs always begin with a pen. The emotion in my work comes from free writing to get all my feelings and thoughts out in the open. I then go through and underline thoughts that keep coming up and come to an idea of what is going on in my life that I need to create work about."
                                         On Your Birthday

Tapping into these important emotions then allows her to create abstracts and finally stage scenes around her house. Using a view camera, Kauschinger then patiently waits for the sunlight to reach the perfect angle. Her patience pays off: the way the light falls in patterns and shapes is integral to many of her images, evoking the silent passage of time.

                                         The State Line

The inspiration that Kauschiner draws from words extends to song lyrics as well. She looks to music “that is poetic and has concrete imagery,” citing artists such as Bright Eyes, Bruce Springsteen, Loretta Lynn, and Rilo Kiley. She also has a deep admiration for female photographers such as Sally Mann, Francesca Woodman, and Cig Harvey, hoping to one day join their ranks.

"I think that over the last few decades there has been a growing tradition of women delving into their worlds and discovering what their lives mean through photography. I hope to one day feel like I participated in [that] line of photographers..." 


Kauschinger is certainly taking the right steps to achieve that goal. There are many new opportunities for burgeoning photographers to have their work seen, and it’s important for young artists to take advantage of them. “I am at the beginning of my career, and I am figuring out what success means in the marriage between photography and myself.” How does Kauschinger define success for herself and her work? “I would define success in photography as continuing to be seen by your chosen audience.” And she is well on her way.

Hot Skin will be on view in The Kiernan Gallery as part of our Portfolio Showcase from July 18 - August 25.

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