Artist, model, student, Ashley Chew does it all. The 23 year old Indianapolis native and 2013 RAW Artist of the Year just returned from New York Fashion Week and is already jumping into more excitement with an art exhibition, titled ILOVEHER. The opening is tomorrow, Friday March 6th from 7:30 to 9:30 at The Madame Walker Theater, and the paintings will be on exhibit until March 27th.
The event kicks off National Women’s History Month in an exciting way. Chew’s paintings are an ode to women, drawing inspiration from their history and stories. With loud, dynamic colors, and erratic and expressive brush strokes, they express the power of woman, hear her roar. Many of the paintings are careful examinations of the female body, with lighting and form transformatively expressed through color. A surprise fleck of green splashes onto the cheek next to a popping pink, a wonderfully wild afro is gestured with white, purple, blue and black on a bold self portrait, the figures are modelesque, as they should be.
“The core of my work is that you can have all these crazy imperfections, all these colors, and it can be a complete mess but you can still make a beautiful picture and you can still be a beautiful person,” says Chew. “Somebody somewhere is going to like the mess.”
Much of Ashley Chew’s inspiration is taken from history, specifically ancient Egyptian cultures, where the powerful queens were equal to kings. But she also considers times when women were not even allowed to pursue artistic careers.
“I feel so privileged to be able to paint openly and show openly and sell my work openly,” says Chew. “I don’t have to sell it under my father or husband’s name. That overall motif plays a part in my work. You don’t have to hide being a female artist like you used to.”
Aside from being an artist, Chew works as a fashion model, and recently walked in New York Fashion Week for FTL Moda. Chew was covered in gold and black body paint and metallic garments reminiscent of a tribal future, part of a collaboration collection by Antonio Urzi, Cathias Edeline, and creative director Pablo Patané. Her motto, which leads her walk and her life, is to stand tall.
“I’m one of the shorter models, but your confidence will take you so far. People will forget it if you carry yourself tall, if you carry yourself big. That’s my signature,” says Chew.
This confidence is apparent in her artwork as well. It takes guts to paint with such bold strokes and colors, going outside of what you see before you. Chew hopes to combine her modeling and artwork in other ways as well. She’s hoping to find where they correlate, possibly through body paint, photography or installations.
“I hope that all of my worlds clash one day,” says Chew. “As long as I have a creative life, I will have a happy life. That’s all that matters to me.”
See Ashley Chew’s paintings on display at the Madame Walker Theater from March 6th to the 27th. The opening is taking place on March 6th from 7:30 to 9:30.