Sometimes you follow the beaten path, and sometimes you just have to make a mess. Abstract painter, designer and muralist Ashley Mary excels in the art of the beautiful mess. Stepping into her Northeast Minneapolis art studio, you are immediately surrounded by the loveliest chaos. The open, airy space is set aglow by mid-afternoon light streaming through the massive bank of windows – though it’s reasonable to assume the space would glow as brightly without the sun’s assistance. Everywhere you look, Ashley Mary’s visual language of abstract shapes in vibrant color is on full display – on canvas, stationery, three dimensional wooden figures, even skateboards. The space is punctuated by lush plants, mid-century furniture and found objects that mirror Ashley’s signature color palette. The combined is at once impeccably curated and impossibly cheerful.
“I hold everything loosely. The best things happen in my work when I leave room for surprises. I don’t believe in perfect, I believe in process, exploration and experimentation.” This approach to creativity extends to Ashley’s personal style as well. Her wardrobe is a bright, playful mix of new and vintage pieces, with custom paint splatter a prominent feature on nearly every piece. “The colors I wear give me different energies, which is vital to my mood and my work. And I paint in everything I wear, so I don’t invest too much in any one piece.” Oversized jackets, cool sneakers and accessories are a go-to as well – including the one accessory that goes with everything, her foxy pup Ren. (A mother/son matching moment has been known to occur, as Ren’s wardrobe is equally extensive).
Much like the shapes featured in her work, Ashley Mary’s path has been an organic one. After completing her undergraduate degree in religion, Ashley began moonlighting making and selling small collages. Over the course of the next few years, she’d sold enough work to recognize that art was her calling. She went back to school to pursue a master’s degree in web and graphic design, and from there immersed herself fully in graphic and product design and developing her unique style of work. Today Ashley focuses her creative energy on creating paintings, installing murals, product and surface design and collaboration with interesting, creative brands.