We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Busby and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashley, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk taking is a difficult and necessary part of any creative practice. In my research it is necessary for me to be an active participant and push away from my comfort zone. I must initiate my interactions with the natural world and always search for new perspectives. Taking an unmarked trail, pushing my body to the top of the rock face, exposing myself to temperature extremes. Understanding my body’s negotiation with fear and the physical challenges of being in landscape is an essential part of my work. Art making is a risk as well. Translating these experiences from nature into paint requires an immense amount of thought and precision. I spend a lot of time getting it wrong. Experimenting is often fruitless, but most rewarding when I allow myself to accept my mistakes.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I make work about nature. Rather than the immediate experience, I am interested in how we internalize and reshape our ideas of landscape in the moments after. When I first began painting in college, I viewed art making as a technical challenge. I spent months on a single canvas, rendering every blade of grass and and leaf to realistic precision. Delicate and layered mark making remains a crucial part of my painting process. I moved from Houston to Lubbock for graduate school, where my work radically shifted. I began abstracting my spaces and muting my color palette. I went on long hikes during this time. I was fascinated with photographing textures and growths on the path, and searching for unusual patterns. Rather than the scenic overlook, I found myself staring at mushroom stacks and cross-sections of tree bark. This small scale interaction became a huge influence on my concept of landscape. After finishing graduate school in 2016, I struggled to find a place I could make artwork. In 2017, I interned at the Shumla Archaeological Research & Education Center studying rock paintings in the Lower Pecos. During this time, I began my research on indigenous image making and how peoples of the past interacted with their landscapes. When I moved to New York in late 2017, I continued my research on rock art painting. I worked on small scale paintings for 2 years in my apartment before I found a studio space that could accommodate some of my larger scale pieces and resumed a more consistent production of work. Since then, I have participated in several shows in the north east, including my first solo show, Surface/Strata, at the Rochester Museum of Fine Arts. I have also had the privilege of showing work at SITE: Brooklyn in New York City, the Fe Gallery in Sacramento, CA, and the Katonah Museum of Art. My ideas of nature, painting and surface are always shifting. Currently I am making a new body of work, researching new places to hike, and looking for new opportunities to collaborate.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My favorite lunch spot is Brazil. Laid back, beautiful patio, delicious food, and a great place to catch up with a friend for a few hours. You can’t visit Houston without a long walk on the Bayou. Buffalo Bayou park has winding trails on the water, with amazing views of the city. Check out the underground Cistern while you are there! Thrift shopping in the heights with a coffee from Boomtown. A trip to the incredible collection at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Swing by the Contemporary Museum of Fine Arts across the street too!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Dr. Carolyn Boyd and the Shumla Archaeological Research & Education Center– for introducing me to the incredible world of rock art and forever changing my studio practice. Your discoveries are impacting painters and archaeologists everywhere. Negative Blue: Selected Later Poems – by Charles Wright My graduate school professors at Texas Tech university for sharing their wealth of knowledge and guiding me in my artistic journey.