America's Female Contemporary, Ashley Collins
Ashley Collins is a mid-career artist who's formulated an iconic method of painting that has established her artwork in the cannon of contemporary fine art. After being recognized by numerous museums, Collins' most recent honor at the Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame has clearly defined her as a progressive and inspiring activist. Utilizing a multitude of mixed media that includes found objects, books, and historical documents, Collins works within a universally understood visual language she's developed.
At the Cowgirl Museum, beside Georgia O'Keeffe paintings are Ashley Collins' which are now part of the museum's permanent collection. With over 10 charities and more than half of her earnings going to non-profit organizations, Collins' is an obvious honoree amongst the carefully selected female luminaries who comprise the Cowgirl Museum's list of names.
Collins alongside such Western Icons as Reba McEntire, Jacqueline Smith McEntire, Former First Lady Ann D Romney, equine therapy pioneer Margaret McGinley Dickens and 7-time rodeo world champion Marion Burger.
"We are each of us part of a growing novel, with chapters being written in real time. Our adventures do not have a completed storyline and that mystery is an ongoing playground of magic. The previous chapters in life’s great novels are written with the souls, love, and sweat of those whose lives were not so dissimilar from ours.
We are not bound by the past, but surely those that created our past are with us now, shining brightly within our own smiles, our own kindness and while we create our own moments. For those who think we are so advanced, a simple glance at a Sears Roebuck catalogue will remind them of an earlier Internet in a hardbound form when things were indeed slower, but desires and what truly matters were one and the same. It is for this reason that each of my paintings begins with canvas first covered by book pages and each subsequent layer becomes riddled with more pages. Pages often from the 1700s and 1800s that generations of hands have touched and with that touch imparted just a bit of their beautiful souls to the work." -Ashley Collins
Ashley Collins working in her studio
Although Collins is recognized as a painter, the paint is less than half of the mixed media. With a collection of books found around America, historical documents, boot spurs, and various small wooden and metal objects, Collins asides materials before starting a new painting. As the painting progresses, the artist will add objects or cover others to clearly show the development behind each of the layers.
It is important to understand that Collins does not paint “the horse” – she has always been adamant that the horse as it is –is perfect, and a painter cannot duplicate that perfection. This is why so many painters with similar subject matter often create images that are somehow stilted... somehow accurate, yet entirely missing the key... For it is that Soul, The Helper, The Guide, The Angel that appears in our lives just when we most need it, that Collins captures.
Ashley Collins, Shadowfax, acrylic and oil on wood, 96"x 120"
When she was young, Collins connected with a horse that lived in a stable down the road from her family’s one bedroom home. Without a loving atmosphere at home, Collins discovered the marvels of nature by chasing rabbits and tweeting at birds in the trees. She would sometimes jump the fence of the stable to brush and spend time with a horse named Chief. The stable owner finally caught Collins one day and befriended her by letting her know she was welcome to ride and pet the horse anytime. And with Chief, Ashley Collins’ love for horses was born.
In her career that started in the 1980s, Collins was a struggling, but hopeful and ambitious artist. With moderately successful openings during the time of a male-dominated art world, Collins was challenged consistently on her way to success. After sleeping on her studio floor day after day trying to make works that could sell, she wanted to get in touch with the deepest parts of her creative inspiration. So, Collins’ next series of paintings focused on the horse and to her amazement, the entire show sold out.
Ashley Collins with her horse, Chief, who has been crucial to her inspiration.
Since then, Collins has committed her career to painting artwork that communicates on a level beyond the surface of the paintings. Her artwork is now a part of the Singapore Art Museum, Republic of Singapore, Peoples Museum at the Cultural Palace, Beijing, China, Laguna Art Museum, United States, Museum of Fine Arts, Hanoi Vietnam, Eiteljorg Museum Biennial Exhibition, United States, Metropolitan Museum of Manilla, Manilla, Philippines, Newport Harbor Art Museum, United States, Institute of Painting, Shanghai, China, Riverside Museum, United States, Laguna Art Museum, United States. It has been a pleasure since Ashley Collins started with our gallery 7 years ago and we look forward to the journey ahead.
Noah T Jones, with Melissa Morgan Fine Art