Ashley T. is an multidisciplinary artist working in the mediums of event coordination (or what she calls “installation art” ), dance and visual arts. She is also a resident artist at SKETCH’s Indie Studio Residency for the Winter Season. You can follow her on Instagram at @blackdiamondeventsto and to see or purchase her work, visit her site Bi Fusion Arts.
I work professionally in event design and management, which consists of anything from planning an entire event from scratch to running the show the day-of and wrangling people. As event management involves a great deal of organization and logistics, it is regarded as being a real profession.
As a child I always aspired to be a professional artist, but was widely discouraged because it was not considered to be a real profession. My brother was my only real support system for my art. He bought me my first easel and paint set and encouraged my artistry. As a result of the discouragement from others, I pursued more academic endeavours. However, my brother helped keep my love for the arts alive and I continued to pursue it, but in a more hobby-inclined manner.
The residue of the discouragement resulted in me not being able to accept the term “artist” as one I could identify myself as. I had truly removed myself from that realm of thinking, until I realized that when I create and produce events, that I am still creating art. My events are three-dimensional, atmospheric pieces of art that cater to all of the senses, thus I refer to my events as my “installation art”. The fact that I could see my events as “professional art” re-inspired me as an artist and helped me fall back in love with all forms of art, especially acrylic painting.
I call my art collection Bi Fusion Arts because it speaks to my many identities the same way my art does. I am Biracial, Bisexual and have Bipolar Disorder Type II. I am also the middle child of three children, so “Bi-ness” has always been a very big part of my life in the sense that I am constantly told that I am either not enough or am too much. My paintings, although abstract, still very much tell a story. Each one is essentially a snapshot of my narrative. They speak about me being Black and Biracial, about my bisexuality, about being Bipolar and my mental health, about my feminism, and many other things that make me who I am. Although the themes are consistent, each piece is completely different.
I have been thinking more and more about what success actually means to me because growing up, I was influenced by the idea that money and fame signified success. I have been re-evaluating my sense of success. To me, success is permanence. I have survived many discouragements, traumas, rejections, and attempted erasure of my identities. The fact that I have been able to survive and continue to translate that pain, fight, and resilience into my art is success. Defying erasure and claiming permanence IS success.
I wish I found out about SKETCH a long time ago because I am aging out soon. It has been a part of my journey in reconnecting with my visual art and my resilience. This past year has been all about reconnecting with my visual art and allowing myself to expand on being an artist.
Art has really changed my life, it has made me a hell of a lot happier. It has made me bolder, braver, and happier.