Ashlyn Pope is an African American artist of Gullah descent mainly working with ceramics and textiles. Clay became instrumental in her work while attending Kennesaw State University where she eventually earned her BFA in Ceramics and Printmaking in 2013. She went on to complete her Master’s degree in Ceramics at Pennsylvania State University in 2019. Ashlyn is currently the Ceramic Resident at the Lawrence Arts Center, a non- profit community arts center in Lawrence, KS. She is also currently teaching at the Kansas City Art institute for the spring.
I am Gullah, a descendant of slaves born into a line of abused Black women and I inherited near identical assaults on my female Black body. Using my own story as a bridge, I examine where my personal experiences connect with the overall experiences of the Black community in America. I use ceramics, textiles and printmaking processes to speak to a narrative of mental and physical confinement and limitation of the Black body in America’s past as well as our present. I also express pride and the beauty of the Black community throughout time despite many atrocities levied against us. My pieces are a strikingly delicate balance between weighted subject matters and beauty as a visual aesthetic. They are a quiet reflection of spaces that are imposed upon us and the spaces that we select for ourselves. My work asks us to examine the correlation between our collective history and the contemporary world.
My work expresses the human form as abstracted figures to talk about the human condition. A condition that I represent through ceramics as my main choice of medium. Using sculptural and functional archetypes, I employ throwing and handbuilding techniques in which I envelop African, African American culture and ceramic history into my forms. Many of my works use elements from my ancestral Sweetgrass baskets. These elements are a connection to my familial culture that satisfies the need to preserve identity.