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Bio- Ashlyn Pope is an African American artist of Gullah descent mainly working with ceramics and textiles. Clay became instrumental in her work while attending Kennesaw State University where she eventually earned her BFA in Ceramics and Printmaking in 2013. She went on to complete her Master’s degree in Ceramics at Pennsylvania State University in 2019. Ashlyn has exhibited her work regionally and nationally at places like the Palmer Museum of Art, Florida State Museum of Fine Arts, Ferrin Contemporary: Project Art, and The Clay Studio of Philadelphia. Ashlyn has always been inspired to serve in her community as a champion for diversity and an advocate for young people in the arts. She worked as an instructor at the Art Station- Big Shanty, a community arts center in Georgia and served the larger ceramics community as a former board member of NCECA. Still inspired to serve community, she is currently the Ceramic Resident at the Lawrence Arts center, a non- profit community arts center in Lawrence, KS.
Artist Statement- I am Gullah, a descendant of slaves born into a line of abused Black women and I inherited near identical assaults on my female Black body. Victimized, I examine where my personal experiences collide with the experiences of the Black community. I use ceramics, textiles and printmaking processes to tell a narrative of mental and physical confinement, restriction, limitation and hope for the future of Black bodies in America.
Within my work, I express the human form as abstracted figures to talk about the human condition in our contemporary world. A condition that I represent through ceramics as my main choice of medium. Using sculptural and functional archetypes, I employ handbuilding techniques in which I envelop African and African American cultural and ceramic history into my forms. In many of my works I have adopted the appearance of my ancestral lineage’s Sweetgrass baskets. This form provides a connection between my ancestral culture and the need to preserve identity. The form is also used as a conduit to discuss the ideas of beauty, restriction, ownership and invisible labor of the Black community.
My pieces are a beautifully delicate balance between weighted subject matters and beauty as a visual aesthetic. They are a quiet reflection of spaces that are imposed upon us and the spaces that we select for ourselves. My work asks us to begin to redefine limitations and restrictions placed on people external of our own experiences and begin to imagine a better future.