Brianna Ashe, an Easthampton, NY based artist, completed her residency at Zea Mays in March of 2020. Ashe’s work is eye-catching with it’s bold colors, text, and shapes. As a past intern Ashe writes about her residency as a homecoming. Below is her reflection on her time in residency and what her creative practice has looked like during the pandemic.  

Ashe set herself clear goals and hit the ground running from the beginning of her residency. “I planned quite a bit in prep for my two week stay at Zea Mays. I arrived with a bunch of woodblocks already carved so I could dive in and within the hour of arriving I had ink down and was pulling prints. I knew going into my stay I was going to be working as much as I could physically handle and wanted to push myself and try to get as much work done as possible. I worked 13 days straight, 11am to roughly 2am. The main creative goal I set for my time was to come out with an edition of one large full color reduction woodcut. I’ve always primarily focused on woodcuts when making prints and I had never really worked through full color in printmaking. I also used this time to just be with myself, I really needed a space to be alone and release some serious creative energy. It was meditative, physically exhausting, exciting and felt like a really big shift in my work and process. The studio community has always felt like family, my residency felt very much like a homecoming.”

Ashe writes about returning to printmaking and finding a renewed importance in creating, “I’ve always loved the process of thinking about creating in layers and backwards. I also arrived feeling a bit nervous that I had maybe lost my printmaking brain, after drawing and painting so much for the last handful of years. I ended up walking away with way more resolved editions of prints than I expected and I felt like right towards the end (of course) I was breaking my own structure and allowing myself to play. I didn’t want to leave and was trying to figure how I could fake my own death and restart my life living back in Western MA as a full time printmaker. When the world cools off, and things feel safer, I’ll be back, maybe for good. I came back to my life on Long Island feeling refreshed and really having a better understanding of how important it is for me to make art all the time.”

“Within the month of getting home, the pandemic was in full swing a lot changed for me as it did for everyone. Lots of upcoming opportunities came to halt and eventually cancelled. I had marked some soft dates for me to come back to Zea Mays with my boyfriend and get a taste of western Massachusetts life and make some more prints. After a couple weeks of quarantine and not making much, I started to paint and have done so everyday since. I think about prints a lot, I think I’m even making work that looks like prints. I participated in Big Ink this past weekend and that felt really good. Making a point to make things everyday. Lots of bad art, things of the moment. But it helps keep my head clear and makes me happy.” Ashe writes about how the pandemic has shifted her practice, below are images of her work from quarantine. 

Check out more of Brianna Ashe’s work on her website and follow her on Instagram @bmashe