Ashley Johnson

Exhibition Dates: July 6 - August 12

Ashley Johnson | Central Gallery

Artist Statement

A mother is the first person to warn you that the summer sun is no good for your race.  The first to tell you that your natural hair was “nappy,” and even though, as a child, you have no reference point for the aggression you have against yourself, it develops, slowly, like the milky nothings of a Polaroid until you grow and tell your own daughter when she comes in from the southern heat, skin ashen from the chlorine of the pool that she’s black—as an insult.

Magnolias is my first time speaking about the generational trauma that led me, as a dark-skinned black woman traveling back to herself; the reshaping of black feminine identity by black males, the organics of our own intra-racial conflict and the ways in which African Americans perpetuate the limitations placed on their skin within the diaspora.

Reach takes a deeper dive into the questions we have about ownership over African American blackness when we have no ability to trace our lineage, the realities we leverage and the orientation of appropriation.  I’m exposing my own issues with racism, colorism, feeling invisible and unlovable as a darker woman on how it took me there to journey back to myself.


Ashley Johnson is a writer and creative entrepreneur living in Winston-Salem North Carolina. A UNCG graduate, she defines herself as a mixed media artist by way of hand-crafted weavings, floral, woven and braided masks and considers herself a documentarian and photographer by way of life. Ashley draws inspiration from the contemporary “flash-form narrative as it is an art form that neither requires nor offers a resolution. Through her work, Johnson shifts perspectives through personal study of popular culture, race-relations, identity evolution, Southern womanhood and African American femininity.