Letting Go of Outcome

In this mojo blog exclusive, Kayla Haas sits down with Ashley Schriefer, featured artist of mojo 7, to talk about her process and her interests in Biology.


Ashley Schriefer is a graduate of Flagler College, and she currently attends Long Island University-Post’s MFA program. She works with anatomical and biological forms that decay, invade, and also support the human form. This urge to explore the inner working of the human body through the language of painting was brought to light from a traumatic experience. Health is an aspect she feels could be predicted, but through this experience her sense of comfort was quickly deteriorated. Her work explores the interaction between the structural make up of the human form and its unpredictability. Incorporating portraiture alongside these cellular forms gives her imagery to explore the stages of grief. This constant conversation between these aspects of abnormalities and sickness and the emotions brought about with these encounters is what drives her to constantly explore new ways to display this constant internal battle.


HAAS: I saw that you work within many artistic mediums. Is there one you prefer?

SCHRIEFER: I was drawn to oil paint because of the many ways you can manipulate it but now I am moving into a sculptural direction that incorporates painting and drawing.


Do you choose your medium based on a concept in mind?

Not exactly. I do think about the final outcome but sometimes you just have to get to work. I don’t like to try and plan every aspect of a piece but it usually never ends up the way you predict.


Literary journals often choose art based on the aesthetic of the journal or seek to pair art with a piece of writing. Have you ever created art as a response to written work? How do you think art elevates a journal such as mojo?

No, I actually have not. I believe art helps the reader have a visual support system to compliment the writing. Both can be interpreted based upon the viewer or reader so it makes sense to pair the two together.


In your artist statement, you say the entire concept is never planned or sketched out. How do you go about translating your own raw emotions into something visual?

I start with a loose concept or idea. I then search to try and find images that convey that feeling or concept to me. I am never looking for a specific portrait or biological element. I play with layering the images on top of each other until I create a composition that I am interested in.


The images in mojo show a variety of faces, I was wondering where these come from? Is there a story behind them?

Not exactly. These portraits are not of family or friends. I try and create images that support my current concept or idea that I am trying to portray. Having the faces belong to no one I feel helps them connect to everyone.


Is there a shared narrative between the subjects of the paintings? Do you think they share the same universe and fantasy?

It is not a narrative, but there is a certain concentration that I believe they fall under.


Your images have a biological element to them—often they depict sickness, decay, and neurological conditions, is there an element of research that is required for finding images?

Yes. A lot of my time is spent researching carcinogenic cells, especially glioblastoma cells. Once I find images that I believe will work then the collaboration between the human emotion and human make up begins.


To see more of Ashley’s work, please visit ashleyjoan.com.