Our November First Fridays event is right around the corner, so we thought we’d tell you a little bit more about our November visual artist, Ashley Florence. Ashley is amazingly talented and exceptionally well trained in her medium of choice, photography. After receiving a BA in German Literature from UVA, she spent time in Berlin studying painting at the Kunsthochschule, along with photography under Berlin-based photographer, Xtine Petit. After her time in Germany,  Florence continued her studies at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies, and recently received her MFA from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

We love her work so much, and are sure you will too so we sat down with Ashley Florence to learn a little bit more about her process and the pieces she’ll be displaying at Communtiy for the month of November.

How did you get started in photography?

I took my first photo traveling with my parents when I was eight years old. I had a pink and grey Polaroid Cool Cam I was very proud of and rocked a point and shoot panorama camera until I was twenty. Finally my mother finally gave me an old Canon SLR 35mm when I moved to Berlin for the first time. I think my friend broke it within a month or so, but luckily my German godfather, Klaus, replaced it with a beautiful Olympus OM-1 from his amazing camera collection. That first walk I took with that camera in the Black Forest, those images are still very clear in my mind. I have been photographing quite often since that day, about fourteen years.

Tell us a bit more about your artistic process?

My process has become more technical over the years, but remains situational. At first, I just photographed anything and everything, definitely memento mori style, experimented with settings and film and processing and printing. I messed up a whole bunch, which is pretty much how I learn. Now I am slightly more intentional, take my time more, but still like to stay open to the conditions of the situation, especially the natural light. Unless it fulfills a specific idea, I like to use natural light, obviously enhanced by the lens. I love taking found photographs, but I also love using sculpture and performance in my photography. Both processes feed into each other.

Can you tell us about the photographs you have on display at Community?

The photographs at Community represent both of those processes. The eight new photographs are found and the two older bigger photographs are performed self-portraits. The eight smaller photographs begin with basic painterly interests in color, light, and form. But there is also a more subtle curiosity of how the lens exaggerates and seductively enhances the texture of reality. I think they are fairly beautiful. The two larger photographs are from my ‘Falling’ series where I stage myself in everyday landscapes to look as if I have just fallen out of the sky. Those are pretty funny. 

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The eight newer photographs Florence refers to are featured above and each will be available at Community in a limited run of 10 prints, and the two larger self-portraits are one-of-a-kind and will be on display all next month at Community. We’ll be having our opening reception showcasing Florence’s work this coming Friday from 6-9…stop by, say hi, meet Ashley, and learn a little bit more about this awesome local artist. 

(Until then, you can click on the above images for a larger view.)