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In an effort to lift spirits, spread positive energy and support those around us, Artful Living has partnered with Ashley Mary this spring to bring you an exclusive art print. Proceeds from each artwork sold will support Curiosity Studio, a Twin Cities creative organization helping people get to know themselves through exploratory art making. Here, Ashley Mary gives us a closer glimpse into her creative process, the inspiration behind her colorful print and more.

Photography by Judith Marilyn

At what point in your life did you start making art?

I’ve loved making things with my hands and playing with different mediums since I was little! Some of my earliest memories are with the usual suspects, like paints, crayons and Play-Doh. Then there was a huge gap when I didn’t really make anything and focused more on theater, choir and dance. I came back to studio art during college, where I took a few classes and fell back in love.

How would you describe the style of your work?

I work in a few mediums, including acrylic painting, stained glass, murals and paper collage. My paintings are all abstract and usually vibrant with colorful patterns made by really textured layers. I have a lot of graphic influence in my work, and I’m heavily inspired by vintage nostalgia, visual themes from childhood, old craft magazines and typefaces, and colors and shapes found in nature. I create a lot of arrangements with shapes, and many of my paintings start from a collage I make on paper or digitally. I’m always trying to find compositions that create a sense of balance, play and dance. I really try to create opportunities in my paintings to be surprised. I make it a time of play and exploration.

Photography by Ashley Mary

How have the past few years affected your creative process?

I was by myself a lot, living and working mostly from my cabin for a year, which made the creative process much lonelier. I didn’t work on as many murals, where I often have a bud to connect with. It was just a lot of solitude! But the space gave me time to reflect on what I was making and come to it with more preparation and less frenzy. It also made me face and sit with my anxieties around my work and life in new ways, probably due to less distractions from what was always there. Teletherapy was a privilege to have access to. I started painting a series of works that explored those anxieties a bit, I hope to share these down the road when I’ve finished more. The pandemic really influenced my ideas around work, creativity, relationships, balance and time. I still have seasons of intense schedules and poor personal balance, but in general I’m trying to make more time for rest, exploration, movement and doing other things that make me feel whole besides working. The solitude gave me more opportunities to examine all those things.

What inspired the creation of this print?

I chose tones that reminded me of warmth and play, and tried to create a visual of balance and playfulness. Part of Curiosity Studio’s mission is finding space for creative play and within that space also examining themes of balance, mental wellness and wholeness as it relates to our own selves and our roles in the world.

Artful Living | Artful Giving Ashley Mary

Why did you choose Curiosity Studio to benefit from this print?

Curiosity Studio is so many things I personally love and believe in: creative exploration, human connection, self-discovery, mess making and snacking, to name a few. The studio allows people to discover new creative tools and creates a safe space to simply play, which most of us don’t prioritize as much anymore in our adult lives. They also just opened up a new workspace (shared with Sharp Sign Co.) on Lake Street where classes and workshops are being now offered. Open studios are offered regularly for folks to get to know what it’s all about.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and Curiosity Studio takes the opportunity to spotlight the ways we can better prioritize our mental health through art making. In hopes of removing barriers to mental-health services, Curiosity Studio is offering all its programs at no cost throughout the entire month. All sales from these prints will be a small part of that effort.

Mental health is a topic close to my heart, and I see the important work that Curiosity Studio is doing to help people understand, reflect and tend to emotions through the act of creative making. It’s a beautiful concept and space, and I hope more people get to discover it this spring. You can sign up for Curiosity Studio’s newsletter to learn more about programs and opportunities.

Learn more about Artful Giving and purchase this exclusive print.

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