Ashley Ryane

Ashley Ryane

My journey to metalsmithing started in 2012. After 6 years of seriously struggling to find a major I was happy with, and months before transferring to CSU Monterrey Bay for a degree in math, I decided to drop everything and pursue art. I had absolutely no art background, but I knew something was missing. I felt I so badly had something to say and no way to say it. After years of basic art prerequisites, without having ever taken a metals class, I applied and was accepted to the metals program at Cal State Long Beach.

Looking back, I had no idea what “metals” really was. I was just following my gut, and I am grateful every day that I did. The first time I got my hands on a saw and piece of metal I was hooked - it was everything I could have asked for. Something about the way the metal felt in my hands, the way I was able to manipulate it, and the power I had over it was exciting. There was this beautiful connection between my hands and my mind that I had never experienced before. I was suddenly able to make what was in my head appear in front of me, and it was the most empowering feeling.

My love and passion for metals grew exponentially at CSULB. I learned so much in my time there, and was given the support and space to grow as an artist from my professors. I fell in love with casting and refined my sculpting skills with Rachel Shimpock. I learned enameling, my greatest love, from Elise Preiss, whom I feel especially blessed to have had the opportunity to learn from. Elise made a huge impact on my life and practice throughout my years there. Not only did she teach me how to enamel but she held me to a high standard, kept me on track, and had great patience for my lengthy creation process. She brought something out in me that I did not know I was capable of. With her guidance, I was able to hone in on what I wanted to say and how to communicate those feelings through form, texture, and material.

I have a strong emotional connection to the metal and to my practice. My process is long and ideas float around in my head for years sometimes before I am ready to let them out. My work focuses largely on my experience as someone who has ADHD and suffers from, among other things, depression and anxiety. My pieces are mostly self portraits that explore these aspects of my life, and are created as the physical manifestation of what it feels like for me to live with these disabilities.

With each piece, I contemplate the struggles these disabilities cause, as well as the strength and knowledge I gain from living with them. For me, the act of making is very therapeutic and the outcome tells a story of what it took to get there. My pieces change as I work on them and as new understandings of the pieces and myself comes to me.

At the end of October 2018, I had the opportunity to have my own BFA show. Seeing my pieces displayed in a gallery brought such context to my work and I was taken aback by the story they told displayed all together. Working with metals gave me the voice I had so desperately been searching for. I knew for sure that the decision to follow my gut all those years ago was right - working with metals is exactly where I am meant to be.