Artist Profile: Ashley Morrison / by Helen Grant

August’s featured artist is also curating her first group show at Resonator. Ashley Morrison serves on Resonator’s Advisory Board and is involved with weekly crew meetings. However, this time around we encouraged Ashley to take the lead and organize what is essentially an exhibition celebrating people of color (POC) and the importance of owning your narrative. We strive to facilitate the growth of artists and encourage in the community a sense of authentic human interaction; we even wrote it into the mission statement. Come experience this and more during August’s 2nd Friday Art Walk on August 9th from 6:00-10:00 p.m.

-Helen Grant

Diversity University Artist Curator: Ashley Morrison.  Pronouns: she/her  ”Diversity promotes sophistication, intelligence, and the capacity to do truly great things: this is where the healing begins and perpetuates. Diversity is not just about bringing in more POC, but is ultimately about providing space and opportunity for POC to control their own narrative. Let the storytellers tell their own story; this is how POC honor ancestors. I am deeply humbled to have a space where people can observe just how beautiful my people and fellow POCs can be.”

Diversity University Artist Curator: Ashley Morrison.
Pronouns: she/her

”Diversity promotes sophistication, intelligence, and the capacity to do truly great things: this is where the healing begins and perpetuates. Diversity is not just about bringing in more POC, but is ultimately about providing space and opportunity for POC to control their own narrative. Let the storytellers tell their own story; this is how POC honor ancestors. I am deeply humbled to have a space where people can observe just how beautiful my people and fellow POCs can be.”

Q/A

Q) Why were you drawn to organizing this exhibition?

A) As a woman of color, I constantly see a need for representation for POC. Building an identity as a black woman in a way has been a self-fabricated journey; it's something I've worked very hard to piece together from listening to Toni Morrison and Zora Neale Hurston on audio book, digging for fragments of my ancestral heritage, and honestly, lots of internal lamenting. It sounds like I'm being extra, but I think it's important that POCs articulate their experiences; our stories deserve to be accurately represented. As a child and then a young adult, I struggled to piece together that sense of self. It's still a struggle for me today. I think about POC youth and think about my own children and how their experiences can be so easily misshapen by a culture that doesn't always include them. I hope to help provide opportunities for them to establish their identity without having to reinvent the bizarre wheel that is the marginalized minority experience.


Diversity University Artist: Jasmine Jones Pronouns: she/her  ”My cultural background has been very family oriented, with the women in my family having a heavy impact on my understanding that women have immense strength yet delicacy as well as willpower and beauty. Most often, my grandmothers are the ones that influence my artwork. I wasn’t raised with a memorable exposure to art, although my family seems to have somewhat of an appreciation for it. Sometimes I believe that absence and seclusion push me to keep making and to expose them to art – whether it’s classical, contemporary, or my own.  Additionally, the lack of knowing my family’s history and ancestry pulls me into a tangled state of mind when it comes to my practice. I feel as if I have wishes that I can dig up what’s been buried and lost by using certain compositions and symbolism to learn who my great-great-great-great-great-great aunt was and she was about. Even though I never learn anything, I do feel more connected to my family’s history and ancestors – as if I’m doing right by our history as well as our future. However, sometimes I just want to disconnect, having no accountability to my cultural background when it comes to me being an artist. There’s no reason that what I make has to be connected to my culture and I’m still learning that. I’m constantly reminding myself that it doesn’t have to happen if I feel constrained by other’s expectations just because I’m a Black artist."

Diversity University Artist: Jasmine Jones
Pronouns: she/her

”My cultural background has been very family oriented, with the women in my family having a heavy impact on my understanding that women have immense strength yet delicacy as well as willpower and beauty. Most often, my grandmothers are the ones that influence my artwork. I wasn’t raised with a memorable exposure to art, although my family seems to have somewhat of an appreciation for it. Sometimes I believe that absence and seclusion push me to keep making and to expose them to art – whether it’s classical, contemporary, or my own.

Additionally, the lack of knowing my family’s history and ancestry pulls me into a tangled state of mind when it comes to my practice. I feel as if I have wishes that I can dig up what’s been buried and lost by using certain compositions and symbolism to learn who my great-great-great-great-great-great aunt was and she was about. Even though I never learn anything, I do feel more connected to my family’s history and ancestors – as if I’m doing right by our history as well as our future. However, sometimes I just want to disconnect, having no accountability to my cultural background when it comes to me being an artist. There’s no reason that what I make has to be connected to my culture and I’m still learning that. I’m constantly reminding myself that it doesn’t have to happen if I feel constrained by other’s expectations just because I’m a Black artist."


Q) What are your goals for this exhibition?

A) One of the things I cherish the most about the Resonator family is working with people who are so committed to fostering artists. Being a creative can be somewhat of a feral experience and the guidance that is offered in our space is pretty amazing. I also hope to help offer some kind of social respite for POC, a space where they can see themselves reflected in media in world where often times POC are misrepresented, underrepresented, or not represented at all.


Diversity University Artist: Ariana Weir Pronouns: she/her  ”My cultural background greatly shapes my art. Coming from a mixed background is very interesting to me and also a very important aspect of my identity. I like to create art that revolves around my identity: where my family has come from, my different cultural heritages, and how I fit into both of them.”

Diversity University Artist: Ariana Weir
Pronouns: she/her

”My cultural background greatly shapes my art. Coming from a mixed background is very interesting to me and also a very important aspect of my identity. I like to create art that revolves around my identity: where my family has come from, my different cultural heritages, and how I fit into both of them.”


Q) Were you surprised by any of the submissions? And if so, who’s work redefined the shape of your expectations for what this exhibition could be? 

A) Again, I don't mean to be extra, but I was stunned by every single submission. Each one of the artists that will be featured are of their own self-made discipline, so we have a pretty interesting variety. I believe that right there is what has redefined my perspective of art. We asked each artist how their culture has shaped their art, they've provided honest and raw answers, and you see that manifest in their work. Also, there was something sacred about meeting each artist, and each artist handing me their work. Pretty dope.


Diversity University Artist: Felix Rodriguez  Pronouns: he/him   ”Being biracial, I often find myself engaging with art that operates in the liminal spaces. The blurring of disparate cultures produced me and how I relate to art. Growing up I was taught to deny certain aspects of my identity to ‘fit in’ with the white people in my home town. I wasn't taught Spanish as a child, and my family stopped using my real name, choosing an Anglo-fied version of my middle name instead. After leaving that town and childhood behind, I began in earnest exploring the Puerto Rican side of my identity and with that the culture and people across the Diaspora in general. There's a contagious energy when engaging with any art that explores the space between how we see ourselves and how the world sees us. My music may not include words, but it is my way of speaking to this interaction between myself and the world.”

Diversity University Artist: Felix Rodriguez
Pronouns: he/him

”Being biracial, I often find myself engaging with art that operates in the liminal spaces. The blurring of disparate cultures produced me and how I relate to art. Growing up I was taught to deny certain aspects of my identity to ‘fit in’ with the white people in my home town. I wasn't taught Spanish as a child, and my family stopped using my real name, choosing an Anglo-fied version of my middle name instead. After leaving that town and childhood behind, I began in earnest exploring the Puerto Rican side of my identity and with that the culture and people across the Diaspora in general. There's a contagious energy when engaging with any art that explores the space between how we see ourselves and how the world sees us. My music may not include words, but it is my way of speaking to this interaction between myself and the world.”


Q) What is your take away from organizing and curating this exhibition? 

A) Lots of surrender and self-forgiveness. I had all of these wonderful, sparkling ideas of how I envisioned the show. Then we had to get practical! So lots of surrender to focusing on basics: getting the art, putting on the wall, and showing up to event, lol.


Diverse University Artist: Issac Diaz Pronouns: he/him  "I am half Salvadoran on my dad’s side and half white American on my mom’s side. Growing up here in Oklahoma with my mom’s family I often wondered about my dad’s. Most of his family lives in El Salvador, and my grandma visits from El Salvador often. It wasn’t until I went to the country my dad is from that I finally became proud to have a mixed identity, it made me feel like I had something to research and learn about. I often look at the Pre-Columbian history of Latin America for my work. My work often comments on the unjust cultural suppression of indigenous people of Latin America, such as my dad’s family. I feel a sense of responsibility to use my art to bring exposure to these cultures and their issues. I want to show people that there is more to Latin America that what we think."

Diverse University Artist: Issac Diaz
Pronouns: he/him

"I am half Salvadoran on my dad’s side and half white American on my mom’s side. Growing up here in Oklahoma with my mom’s family I often wondered about my dad’s. Most of his family lives in El Salvador, and my grandma visits from El Salvador often. It wasn’t until I went to the country my dad is from that I finally became proud to have a mixed identity, it made me feel like I had something to research and learn about. I often look at the Pre-Columbian history of Latin America for my work. My work often comments on the unjust cultural suppression of indigenous people of Latin America, such as my dad’s family. I feel a sense of responsibility to use my art to bring exposure to these cultures and their issues. I want to show people that there is more to Latin America that what we think."


Q) To keep it short and sweet, what haven’t I asked that you want readers/ the art walk audience to know about you, an artist left unmentioned, or anything else that you feel is important, but hasn’t been covered? 

A) I've seen local diversity initiatives and I'm always saddened to see non-POC leading those conversations. As a black woman and descendant of ancestors who were originally tribal, I know that there is something sacred about storytelling. Let people tell their own story. Let people control their own narrative of their existence.


University Diversity Artist: Clairissa Ringlero aka Solious Dragon Pronouns: she/her  "As an indigenous artist in Oklahoma, my culture has had more impact on my life and values more than my art itself. I learned to be patient and disciplined with my craft, plus the support of my family and people fuels my passion. Being Kiowa and Eastern Band Cherokee, I grew up on the pow wow circuit and became inspired by the artists there. However I gravitated more to visual art in paper over clay, wood, and weaving - my other family has talent there. I am so thankful for the support my culture has given me and I am lucky to hail from such a strongly beautiful people."

University Diversity Artist: Clairissa Ringlero aka Solious Dragon
Pronouns: she/her

"As an indigenous artist in Oklahoma, my culture has had more impact on my life and values more than my art itself. I learned to be patient and disciplined with my craft, plus the support of my family and people fuels my passion. Being Kiowa and Eastern Band Cherokee, I grew up on the pow wow circuit and became inspired by the artists there. However I gravitated more to visual art in paper over clay, wood, and weaving - my other family has talent there. I am so thankful for the support my culture has given me and I am lucky to hail from such a strongly beautiful people."


University Diversity Artist: Synthia Haddad Pronouns: she/her  "I am a 65 year old Lebanese American woman. My parents are both first generation born American Lebanese. My amazing and resilient extended immigrant family - grandparents and their relatives provided an experience rich with the Lebanese culture. I always heard Arabic spoken within the family - grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles. As a youngster I could understand basic conversations and respond appropriately as well. Sights, sounds, textures , aromas and Middle Eastern food were the staples of my life experience from birth. I am gifted with a rich and beautiful culture. I'm extremely proud of and connected to my heritage. I lived it and loved being Lebanese and being ‘American’. “

University Diversity Artist: Synthia Haddad
Pronouns: she/her

"I am a 65 year old Lebanese American woman. My parents are both first generation born American Lebanese. My amazing and resilient extended immigrant family - grandparents and their relatives provided an experience rich with the Lebanese culture. I always heard Arabic spoken within the family - grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles. As a youngster I could understand basic conversations and respond appropriately as well. Sights, sounds, textures , aromas and Middle Eastern food were the staples of my life experience from birth. I am gifted with a rich and beautiful culture. I'm extremely proud of and connected to my heritage. I lived it and loved being Lebanese and being ‘American’. “


Diversity University Artist: Laura Alexandera  Pronouns: she/her  ”Being from a mixed family, I have a patchwork of important artistic influences:  · Walking the art museums in Caracas, particularly at a time when “folk” art was being given an equal platform with “high” art and museums and other cultural institutions were being made accessible to people of all classes in a significant, structural way.  · The walls of my mom’s house, covered with traditional Venezuelan art and religious iconography, more superstitious than mainstream, often reflecting the intersection between local, indigenous spirituality/customs and Catholicism. Her hallway lined with pictures of ancestors.  · My dad’s love for and collections of all things pop and counter-cultural.  · My step-dad’s love of low-riders and the world of custom street art growing up in East LA.  How is the home I feel here, in the geographical and cultural location where I grew up, at odds with my familial home? How is it similar? How are love of culture and love of landscape at odds? How are they similar? What does it mean to attempt to exist simultaneously in two worlds? How does that bring me to spirit? What do the different layers look like that create the reality of our lived experience? Who/what guides us on that exploration?  My work is a practice that keeps me in conversation with these types of questions. When so often identity means belonging neither here nor there, art for me is a cultural touchstone, a means of grounding, of remembering, of pushing and dissolving boundaries."

Diversity University Artist: Laura Alexandera
Pronouns: she/her

”Being from a mixed family, I have a patchwork of important artistic influences:

· Walking the art museums in Caracas, particularly at a time when “folk” art was being given an equal platform with “high” art and museums and other cultural institutions were being made accessible to people of all classes in a significant, structural way.

· The walls of my mom’s house, covered with traditional Venezuelan art and religious iconography, more superstitious than mainstream, often reflecting the intersection between local, indigenous spirituality/customs and Catholicism. Her hallway lined with pictures of ancestors.

· My dad’s love for and collections of all things pop and counter-cultural.

· My step-dad’s love of low-riders and the world of custom street art growing up in East LA.

How is the home I feel here, in the geographical and cultural location where I grew up, at odds with my familial home? How is it similar? How are love of culture and love of landscape at odds? How are they similar? What does it mean to attempt to exist simultaneously in two worlds? How does that bring me to spirit? What do the different layers look like that create the reality of our lived experience? Who/what guides us on that exploration?

My work is a practice that keeps me in conversation with these types of questions. When so often identity means belonging neither here nor there, art for me is a cultural touchstone, a means of grounding, of remembering, of pushing and dissolving boundaries."


Diverse University Artist: Daniel Acuna Pronouns: he/him   ”Being a first generation Mexican American. A lot of of my inspiration comes from my mother’s story and how she wanted a better life for me. I was told I can express myself and have freedoms and experiences she wished she could have had. My paintings show these expressions and impressions. I consider myself as a contemporary Mexican artists, and being born in the US, I express that with my experience of being an Mexican American.

Diverse University Artist: Daniel Acuna
Pronouns: he/him

”Being a first generation Mexican American. A lot of of my inspiration comes from my mother’s story and how she wanted a better life for me. I was told I can express myself and have freedoms and experiences she wished she could have had. My paintings show these expressions and impressions. I consider myself as a contemporary Mexican artists, and being born in the US, I express that with my experience of being an Mexican American.


Diversity University Artist: Jasmine Arriaga Pronouns: she/her  ”The work I make is reliant on my background and where I come from. One would not exist without the other. I talk about my experience as a brown woman and my family because it is inescapable and all I know. Sharing these stories allows me the opportunity to inject a distinct narrative and perspective while commenting on how the American experience is different for everyone.”

Diversity University Artist: Jasmine Arriaga
Pronouns: she/her

”The work I make is reliant on my background and where I come from. One would not exist without the other. I talk about my experience as a brown woman and my family because it is inescapable and all I know. Sharing these stories allows me the opportunity to inject a distinct narrative and perspective while commenting on how the American experience is different for everyone.”