UNCW photographer and business student makes sculpture debut
Published: Friday, February 8, 2013
Updated: Saturday, February 16, 2013 14:02
Accomplished photographer Ashley Hicks just made her sculpture debut in Boseman Gallery’s Elegance of Steel exhibit. She moved to UNCW to spread her creative wings, and now she’s sharing her artistic ambition with the Port City, in several different mediums.
Some people might find this go-big-or-go-home business major from Maryland a bit intimidating. But, really, Hicks is just “ready to be someone” and give back to the people who have given to her.
This girl is going places.
Hicks studied film development and photography in high school in Huntingtown, Maryland. Although she was initially hesitant about her new-found hobby, she turned out to be pretty successful at it. Now she’s attached to her Pentax K-X and a 50 mm Pentax manual film lens, her current favorite photography equipment.
After high school, Hicks landed a full ride to Maryland Institution College of Art (MICA) for her photographic talent. She went to MICA for a couple weeks, attended critiques and made great friendships, but decided to leave Maryland for a little more adventure. So Hicks travelled to UNCW, the beach beckoning her inspiration.
As a studio art minor, Hicks is delving into other art forms like sculpture and proving successful yet again. But photography will always be her first love.
“The one thing I’m most passionate about is photography. I’ve never felt any pressure with it. Every time I do it I remind myself how much I love it. I’m just trying to explore other mediums,” Hicks said.
Hicks started making money with her photography during her freshman year at college. At first, she only did free photo shoots to develop her portfolio. But one of her many mentors changed her mind.
“I started working with Benton Sampson doing some assisting. He kind of kept talking about artists who do stuff for free and how it hinders other people’s ability to sell. He said that if people want it bad enough, then they’ll pay for it,” Hicks said.
So the ambitious UNCW junior did her first paid photo shoot in Wilmington for a local actress. They took some portraits outdoors because Hicks likes to use natural light. The results officially put her on the professional scene.
Right now, she’s making her mark in the local fashion industry. Besides, as a creative kind of girl, she’s already got a unique style herself.
“I dress how I feel, sometimes it’s crazy colors or mix-match on purpose. Fashion is really interesting to me. It looks easier than people think,” Hicks said.
“It’s funny talking to other photographers; from a financial point of view they say go fashion or go weddings. But I got into this idea of doing a lot of really great work with exhibits. Fashion is fun, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve always been a candid artist. I want to be in a room and have no one know I’m there,” Hicks said.
Hicks just finished an individual exhibit entitled Faces on Front, a series of portraits of people downtown that can be seen on her website.
The relationship between photography and sculpture isn’t clear for Hicks yet, but she believes that any artistic inspiration is beneficial.
“For my way of creative thinking, my finished product never looks identical to my first thought. I have this image in my head, but I have to work with my environment to shift and make changes in both photography and sculpture,” Hicks said.
Her first sculpture class was taught by UNCW professor Andi Steele, Hicks’s latest influence.
“I took three dimensional sculpture with her and I wouldn’t get the grade I was expecting. So I went to talk to her and she said to me, I think you’re really talented, and the reason you are so talented is that this is something you could grow into it. So she influenced me to take the next step,” Hicks said.
Steele nominated six female students from her classes to accompany Elizabeth Brim’s work at the Elegance of Steel exhibit. Brim’s sculptures feature realistic figures, such as women’s shoes or snakes, made from several blacksmithing techniques that highlight the curves of femininity. So Hick’s shape-based, curvy, tunnel-like sculpture compliments the exhibit well.
Although Hicks’ photography is primarily people-based, her sculpture is inspired by abstract landscape art. Her piece at the exhibit, entitled “Ephemeral Part I,” was made in conjunction with a research project assigned in Steele’s class. Hicks researched the work of the renowned Anish Kapoor, who designed the popular “Cloud Gate” in Chicago, better known as the Chicago bean. Hicks admires Kapoor’s large pieces, and excitedly describes his work as “an odd looking instrument you just want to crawl into, or the ear of a monster or something.”