Textbook Figure 25 (2023); Acrylic on canvas. 36” x 48”

This week we welcome Ashley Chew, a visual artist based in New York City. Chew’s paintings focus on the leisure activities and visibility of marginalized groups. Chew works across painting, illustration, murals, installations, dyes, textiles, hand-lettering, and silkscreening. 

Textbook Figure 26 (2023); Acrylic on canvas. 36” x 48”

Chew’s work was featured in Spike Lee’s Netflix series “She’s Gotta Have It,” as well as in exhibitions throughout New York City, and is in the permanent collection at Centraal Museum in Utrecht, Netherlands. Chew has held artist talks for The New York Times, The Indianapolis Museum of Art, Columbia University, and the Federal Capital Development Authority in Lagos, Nigeria 

Textbook Figure 19 (2022); Acrylic on canvas. 60” x 48”

“Open Book is large-scale figurative work that explores rest and leisure among marginalized groups. It is in direct contrast to the trauma and violence depicted across mass media,” she writes. “Throughout many textbooks and art classes; I was always observant of one thing: Where are the people of color? This body of work is a direct response to the lack of representation taught in art history. We have experiences beyond distress, suffering, brutality, and enslavement.”

Textbook Figure 23 (2022); Acrylic on canvas. 48” x 48”

Chew uses a range of acrylic paint to style towering up-dos, elongated braids, and ethereal afros. “The figures nest upon lush forests, serene coastlines and draped in comforting garments. The last section to paint is the hair, to ensure that it is the brightest and most contrasted. When creating as a marginalized person(s), you are not only communicating your story, you are communicating stories of your culture, she adds.“There is no individualism in representation. There is no individualism in inclusion.”

See more of the artist’s work on her website and Instagram.

Nitin is a visual designer, gallery artist, and community arts activist. Past desk-oriented posts include: PBS, Digitas, K12, Inc., Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and Sesame Workshop International....

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