Spaces, Places and Scale with Artist Ashley Brossart

‘Water / Ripple / Wave’ 24 in. X 36 in. 2024 Mixed media, paper, canvas, acrylic, found objects, digital photo print
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Louisville, Kentucky-based artist Ashley Brossart has been delving into the subjects of space, architecture and place through multiple artistic mediums. Her latest exhibition Intersections and Places Between is what she refers to as “architectural-collage-assmeblage.” While drawing on some of her previous work, this body of artwork is truly unique, thought-provoking and masterfully executed. We spoke with Brossart about this most recent project, her process, inspiration and more. 

Describe the idea behind this latest exhibition. How did the idea come to you?

I had been thinking about Intersections and Places Between while working on drawings and studies that I started in 2020. I knew I wanted to revisit themes from some artwork from 2010-11 that were influenced by architecture and our perception and experience of our built environments. I had been hiking and taking photos and knew that the natural world in relation to our environment is an additional important component for me. I also knew it was time to return to three dimensional work, revisiting the idea of architectural models as wall sculptures, but wanted an emphasis of ‘play’ in my creativity to develop the ideas. I consider the work to be loosely inspired by the Polly Pocket children’s toy from the 1990s. The toy portrayed Polly’s numerous locations with detailed terrain inside a pocket-sized architectural model. The experience with the toy was one of expanding the imagination, which is a part of my intent with Intersections and Places Between

Along with revisiting some of my older work I wanted to tie in an installation and interactive component as well. Paired with each place are art drops. Art Drops are part of a project I began in 2010. I ‘drop’ small parts of larger artworks throughout the community and city to be found by anyone, allowing the art drop to mirror and echo the site-specific collection of photo images. Each art drop has brief text information about the show location. 

My intention for the art drop is to act as a catalyst to connect to the larger artwork and series, as well as others who have found the pieces. As part of Intersections and Places Between, each drop acts as a viewfinder of images I collected to create a ‘place’. Each conceptual layer expands the whole of the place for a greater connection through the artwork. I’ve put together a number of iterations of this project and this approach seemed fitting for the setting and work. If we really use our imaginations — once you have found an art drop — it becomes a ‘viewfinder’ and an invitation to the artwork; a place. 

My process of exploration and photography, the assemblage model, placing art drops throughout the surrounding physical location, and finally, the viewer and those that find the art drops connect to the created place and one another. Together, the layers generate a multifaceted system bridging to the underlying visual motifs.  

‘Bridge / Sun / Cloudline’ 20in.x23in. 2024 Mixed Media, Digital Image, paper, wood 

How long did it take to come together? Describe the process for us.

I start with collecting photos first, which is an ongoing process almost like a constant parallel to my sketchbooks. I choose images that I have collected by repeatedly visiting locations to emphasize patterns and significant motifs to serve as a map or point of reference for each location. 

The way I choose my photos becomes an abstraction because I am choosing what to remove based on a large collection of images that are more or less intuitively collected snapshots. I focus on finding repeated patterns, lines, shapes and rhythms. My photo collages inform the assemblages while loosely thinking about architectural model making. I’m looking for patterns in shape and line to create a new form, and I am also paying attention to how each piece is going to work together as a whole in a collection with common patterns and themes.

Once I have chosen shapes as focal areas I develop detail, play with shadow, add, subtract or repeat significant elements and begin thinking about color and texture to assemble a form. I consider the viewer’s experience as they visually navigate a piece, using my materials in such a way to evoke more curiosity through texture, reflective surfaces, and shadow for added dimension. Thinking about scale; if we could shrink ourselves to the size of Ms.Pocket, how interesting and visually engaging would the place become? I choose my color schemes to evoke a mood, energy or reference to a type of building material. For each ‘place’ I consider color to be just as important in the overall design as imagery or form for this series. I very much feel as if I am creating a painting in three dimensions with created ‘found’ objects from my photos allowing the photo in each piece to become a found object to be incorporated in the composition as well. 

‘Sun / Compass’ 18 in. X 20 in. 2024 Mixed media, canvas, acrylic, paper, resin, digital image print 

How would you describe and define your work? 

I describe my work as Architectural-collage-assemblage. My architectural collage assemblages depict a future-scaped place at the intersection of our natural world and human-made buildings found in cities.

What inspires you most as an artist? 

Systems. Systems, change, and environments are what I am curious about, have studied, and have experienced, and Intersections and Places Between is an iteration of my curiosity.

I am curious about how things work together and independently — the underlying hum in everything, our culture, our bodies, universe, energy, human interaction and relationships and how all of it weaves together as an architecture or pattern of sorts to create a whole – and often, a place. I have always been an observer of patterns and process. The concepts for my art came together more as a focus that I am highly attuned to while in Graduate school for a discipline aside from art. I think I focus on built environments and the natural world because it is part of the daily experience and the process of my art weaves into the daily grind, starting with collecting images through photography. 

And, in this most recent series of work, what was the driving motivation and inspiration?  

I am motivated and inspired by the current times we are in. As always, but maybe a bit more now, we are in a significant time of evolution, change, and rebirth between the systems that make our places. I am curious as to how the future will look and feel, from our built environment to our interpersonal interactions and beyond. 

What is it that you hope viewers of the show take away most from viewing your work? 

Connection and a spark for curiosity, a seedling of ‘what if’ a park, or waterfront or city block incorporated elements echoing the natural environment as well as an experience of a  place to suspend the imagination and picture yourself in each location.  

Is your work best seen on a whole as a collection, or individual pieces? 

Intersections and Places Between is meant to be experienced as a whole or collection. My intention is for the viewer to experience each piece individually as well as the collection as a whole. Similar to visiting a place within a larger location or an individual within a group. I focused on a few visual motifs to create an underlying system of significant naturally occurring and human-made architectural elements connecting each place individually and/or as a whole. Bridges connect, trees symbolize interconnectedness, and water binds human elements to one another and the earth. 

Are there any artists you look up to? 

Yes! I grew up looking up to many artists in my hometown that inspired me as a kid and still do today. Many of them I was given the opportunity to learn from firsthand, and of course, so many artists work I have studied via Art History that have been influential in many ways; I have always been fascinated with the history of art and culture.

In one statement where you define your work, you referenced “architectural forms with an organic and feminine influence through the use of pattern, shape, and color.“ I found this interesting because many times we don’t think of architecture as feminine. Can you expand on this statement, and what you meant? 

I am curious how shape, pattern and color found in nature’s designs have the potential to influence the future of our built and otherwise environments.  To me, the ‘feminine’ influence is a reference to an energy of intuition that is found in all humans that connects us to each other and nature. What if our built and designed environment becomes more organic in design, intuitive and follows along the natural flow of people — a kind of empathy in design. 

Are you working on anything new currently? If so, can you tell us about it?

I have been slowly and intermittently working on a project over the past year that is similar to the work I just finished, but is focused on fluid elements of the natural world, systems and patterns of change over time; another set of intersections. I am looking for a place to exhibit the upcoming work to tie it all together. 

All photos are courtesy of  the artist Ashley Brossart


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