Artist Ashli Ognelodh

By Taroue Brooks

What inspired you to become an artist?

My older sister and the Holy Spirit. Growing up I always drew on walls. I was never reprimanded for it, but I did do it as though it were a regular thing to do lol. As I got a bit older I continued to draw, but I never really had confidence in my artistic abilities nor was I looking to. Art became more of a thing that was natural to do like breathing. It wasn’t until I got a little older things started to shift. My older sister, whom I lost to lupus years ago, was literally was biggest fan. At the time I was painting things that people deemed “scary” and she thought they were beautiful. As a younger sister,  my sister’s words were like biblical law. I believed everything she said about me and everything she said was always endearing and encouraging. She died in 2010.

I still continued to do art, but only as an outlet and a hobby at this point. I was finishing school and working at the bank. Then, in 2011 I was in church one day and the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said “I want you to quit your job and pursue art full-time”. There was fear of course and a bit of hesitation, but I knew that if God was calling me to something He would equip me with what I needed to do the thing I was being called to do. Also, I was initially at birth supposed to be born both blind and deaf and being that I wasn’t, I knew it was God that gave me a gift that I was responsible for using  

When creating art, how do you know when it is finally complete?

To be honest Work is never complete for me. I like to create art in a way of telling a story. All of my work is related to one another. As opposed to forcing everything into one place I realize that I have the opportunity to continue the story in another. Its almost like a family lineage. A family doesn’t necessairly stop at one person. My paintings are created in that way. All of my work addresses my experiences from an emotional perspective. Because I’m not complete, they are never complete; their essence just transcends elsewhere

What has been your favorite work of art and why?

One of my favorite pieces is a piece I did entitled “The Light”. First of all the model used for the picture was one of my younger sisters. The picture is a full embodiment of her. She is a very beautiful human being and I love what her essence inspired for the piece. The picture is about how people should be able to experience or feel the presence of the Lord within in you before you even speak about Christ. They should be able to feel God’s warmth, God’s love, God’s patience while in your presence. My sister is not a perfect individual, but her nature is a depiction of those things. 
How would you describe your style and method of creating art?
I think because of my usage of color my style would be more contemporary, especially more recently. I like to use vibrant colors to often suppress sometimes the dark spaces my mind likes to dwell in. My method to anything artistic is always going to be emotional. I like to create work that forces individuals to have emotional conversations with themselves; a transparent moment 

What other artists do you admire and why?

My favorite artist is Frida Kahlo. I love the rawness and vulnerability in her work. In a world thats full of pretend and delusions of grandeur, I loved her authenticity. She painted what and how she felt. She didn’t focus on it being “pretty work”, she focused on the idea of needing to express herself without apologies. She operated in an artistic freedom that I think is beautiful. Another artist that I admire is Atlanta artist Tracy Murrell. I first saw her work at Zucot Gallery in Atlanta, GA. I love the way she has bold color shapes juxtapositioned with patterns and varied shapes and lines. Her work to me is “simplistically complicated” and it speaks to me because thats how the world is 

What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of being a professional artist?

Creating content, while also trying to market the content. There is a certain requirement that comes with the administrative component of being a working artist. There are moments where I wish I could just lose myself and completely immerse myself in my work, but I have to be responsible.  I have to sell the work, I have to market the content, and that requires utilizing another part of my brain

What does success look like for you?

Success looks like creating a life I don’t need to escape from; being able to create everyday without having to do the administrative work is success for me. Inspiring others spiritually, mentally, and emotionally with my work is success to me. 

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