Ashley Johnson
Shadow Work
Organized by Nick Naber

April 29 – May 29, 2022
Opening Reception: Friday, April 29,7 – 9 PM
Gallery Hours: Sundays 1-5PM

Shadow Work is a photographic body of work that processes the artists’ brain’s response to trauma through memory loss and spiritual dissociation. By revisiting the childhood homes, and archive of journals and diaries in her youth, Johnson, employs both the Psychological definition of Post TraumaticStress Disorder, and the spiritual concept of the Chiron (our core wound and the path to healing it), to embrace the painful and therapeutic practice of shadow work to reclaim her lost memories, address trauma, and correct damaged mental and spiritual pathways in her life.

The images depict the current versions of the homes ofJohnson’s childhood as of 2022. Occasionally superimposed on some of the large mats are the handwritten words of Johnson’s past journal entries that correspond with that particular home within the imagery. Symbolic is the concentration on front doors for what doors both reveal and conceal. InJohnson’s case, the fragmented concept of home.

The size and placement of the images—small and parsed randomly within the very large dark mats—represent the artist’s feelings of searching within the vast void of memory where recognition of herself or the events of her life as written are simultaneously newly recognized, unreliable, vividly painful, or never remembered again. The framing also denotes the physical experience of revisiting locations which represent significant chapters in Johnson’s life, and how memories, which feel so vast and poignant in memory, are in actuality so small in physical space when revisited. 

As with most of Johnson’s work, Shadow Work begs audience participation by asking the viewer to anonymously write and place their earliest or most vivid memory inside a lockbox located inside the gallery space as part of a continuation of this work.

About the Artist:

Ashley Johnson is a Writer and a multidisciplinary creative entrepreneur living in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Inspired by the contemporary “flash-form” narrative—an art form that neither requires nor offers resolution—Johnson asks complex questions on black through staged portraits.

Johnson uses mix-media, performance, textile, live floral, woven and braided masks, to navigate themes within intra and interracial conflict, identity evolution, intergenerational impact, Southern femininity, studies of relative time as it relates to African American/feminine beauty practice and other psychosocial studies.

Image caption:
Ashley Johnson, Bloomfield, 2022, black and white photo mounted on mat, photo: 8 x 10 inches; mat: 40 x 60 inches

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