Ashley Kauschinger is a visual artist that explores female identity, social structures, and women’s voices. She received her BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design and her MFA from Texas Woman's University. Her work has been exhibited and published nationally and internationally, including an exhibition at the Chiang Mai Art Museum in Thailand, a publication in Chinese Photography Magazine, and an upcoming two-person exhibition at 500X in Dallas, Texas. Her work is held in the collections of Vanderbilt University and the Sir Elton John Collection.
Ashley is also the Founding Editor of Light Leaked, an online photography magazine that creates dialogue and community. Ashley lives in Columbia, SC where she teaches at the University of South Carolina.
PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: In Her Own Right
2016 – present
In Her Own Right is a collection of portraits, text, and audio of women in art. Fueled by a desire to create space in my work for connection, dialogue, and inspiration I photographed women that live down the street and women that live half way across the country. Beginning with my community, I am creating a platform to empower and share the voices and lives of female artists. The future of this project will include a webbing out to the communities of others based on nominations.
Historically and contemporarily women have often been described as having a talent or ability “in her own right.” Women continue to be placed in a role of muse or model in art. In Her Own Right is reframing the idea of muse by putting the female artist at the center in order to inspire and empower one another’s art making and contribute to the idea of what an artist looks like.
Photographed mostly in the homes or personally significant spaces of each artist, the series also investigates broader ideas of female identity and the choices women make in their every day lives.
When and where did In Her Own Right begin?
This project began in 2016. I had been making a lot of experiments, and was unsure of where I wanted my work to go for a few years before this. I was thinking about what is important to me as a person and an artist. I wanted to create a body of work that manifested the community spirit of the online platform Light Leaked that I run, along with a desire to have conversations in person and to support and empower women in the arts. Which all came together to be this portrait series. I started with the women that I worked with at the time at the University of South Carolina, and we worked out the structure it would take: photographing women in their homes or personally significant spaces, and interviewing them about their work and lives in order to have their voice be a part of the project.
Where do you see In Her Own Right going?
In Her Own Right is an in-progress series. I see it as an living archive that I hope will grow over time, and is the kind of project that I will continue to work on in addition to other projects. I hope that it will someday become a book, and I see it as work that needs to be seen collectively. It’s collaborative in nature, and I have to travel to gather portraits and audio from women. It’s not something that I can’t work on continuously during the academic year while I am teaching, but I like that it is a project that I can pick up where I left off, and get to travel and have amazing conversations with women artists.
What helps you sustain your current creative practice?
Community is always what sustains my creative practice. I’m a strong believer in forming and supporting community, and that this creates inspiration for making work. I have accountability meetings with my peers to discuss work and to keep each other on track with our goals, and collaborate with artists to make zines or of course, to create portraits for my In Her Own Right series.
Light Leaked, the online photography platform I have run for 6 years, is also where I form connection and inspiration with the photography community at large.
Beyond that I think it’s important to follow curiosity, experiment, read, and to continue having life experiences outside of work.
What’s next for you?
I am currently working on a new body of work that I haven’t made public yet about women’s history. I will be sharing some of the work in a two-person exhibition called Visions for Venus with Ashley Whitt at 500X in Dallas, TX. The show opens Feb 24 and will run until March 11. The exhibition presents works about women by women, to empower and seduce viewers while subverting patriarchal ideas of history and greatness.
I have also been working on curating an exhibition for The Light Factory in Charlotte, NC opening June 7 – August 2. The exhibition is called Bridging Division, and will look at contemporary divisions through personal interpretations, and will feature work by Rania Matar, Priya Kambli, Lissa Rivera, Melissa Krieder, and Zora Murff.