A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a family reunion out here in our woods. It was a wonderful time having the whole family together. In that story, I talked about the gallery where Ashley, our daughter-in-law, would be showing her latest works. I have to admit that having seen a lot of her work since we first met, I was still amazed by what I saw.
Ashley is a natural in everything she does, in her life and in her work. She tends plants like they are children, and collects just about everything that grows in the woods. From moss and lichens to the flowers and ferns, they all seem to have a place in her heart, and as I have learned, in her art as well. A walk in her garden says it all. There are flowers everywhere.
As we headed into the gallery at the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kansas, I was immediately struck by the quality and volume of the works she had created. Beautiful compositions that have their origin in the things I know she has a passion for. Plants and fabric. Somehow she had managed to combine them into sculptures and quilts.
I won’t try to get very deep into the process she uses to manifest her art. I can hardly do that with my own, but I will give it a try, and hope it doesn’t need too much correction. Actually, Ashley did a very good job of it in the way she presented her work. First came the plants. In her displays, she often had jars full of the dried flowers she used to dye and add visual texture to the fabric which would later be used in her final works. Even for the uninitiated, it was easy to see how her process evolves, from flowers and fabric to finished works of art.
I could go on but I won’t, at least I’m finished trying to explain how Ashley goes about creating her art. Trying to explain someone else’s art is like trying to tell someone what love is. It really can’t be done. All I can do is give a brief description of what I have seen and heard over the years and the wonder I felt seeing the finished products. From flowers to dyed and stained fabric is all I know. Turning them into sculptures is a mystery to me. And so it should be. Art isn’t meant to be explained, it is meant to be felt, and I left Ashley’s show knowing that I had seen something beautiful and original.
So the best I can do is show you some of the beautiful pieces Ashley displayed at the show. It isn’t like seeing them in real life, but I believe you will get the idea. From flowers to sculptures and quilts. I never would have guessed.
The reception was over. It was a huge success. Ashley sold one of her quilts right off the bat which is a good start to any show. It will be there in the gallery at the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kansas, for two months and I encourage you to check it out if you can. I also encourage you to check out Ashley’s website at Formation Fiber. I believe you will be amazed by the work of Ashley Arnett-Shipley. The pieces in the show only scratched the surface of the volume and quality of Ashley’s works. See for yourself what a talented Kansas City girl can do.
It was time to celebrate. How about an evening at La Bodega, my favorite Kansas City Spanish restaurant? Sangria, tapas, and more garlic than a person should eat. What more could we ask for after a wonderful afternoon?