We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Nora and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashley, as a parent, what have you done for you children that you feel has had the most significant impact?
My kids know that I have a degree and have seen me work in corporate America as an Analytical Chemist. They have also witnessed me take a leap of faith and quit my job and follow my passion of becoming a full-time Visual Artist. I feel as if I have set an example that anything in their lives is possible. If they want to go to college and pursue a degree and a career in corporate America they can. If they want to go the non-traditional route and follow a passion that is outside of that, they have an example to know that they can! I will be here every second of their journey routing them on and letting them know that with hard work and dedication any dream is possible.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a black artist it is important to me to paint joy. I am a portrait artist that only paints black joy and black excellence. I like to paint moments in our lives that are joyful so that those moments can live on forever. I have been blessed to have a wonderful career in the arts. It was not easy at first but I have been blessed to have some amazing opportunities to show my talent and my work. I have been in museums and have had multiple gallery shows. Although I have had all of these wonderful opportunities, the one that meant the most to me was when I got a call to do a huge 3D mural in Indianapolis from GANGGANG, INC, a non-profit founded by Alan Bacon and Malina Jeffers that activates the creative economy to bring more beauty, equity, and culture to cities. I have always wanted to be a muralist because when I was younger I was so poor I didn’t have the finances to explore art museums. I experienced art through free public art. I remember when I was younger I would stop and stare for as long as my mother would let me at the beautiful art. I would say to myself, I am going to paint a mural one day. I wanted to create art for everyone, not just CEOs but for our homeless neighbors to enjoy! I had applied for so many but always got turned down because I didn’t have any mural experience to show. This opportunity gave me a chance to show my work and skill set! From that moment on I have been painting murals non stop! It changed my life. I just got back from painting a mural in Eswatini, Africa! I could have given up after all of the no’s but I didn’t, I kept going and waited for my chance. Rejection can sometimes make us want to quit but if I have learned anything in my journey is that rejection should push you to keep going. If you believe in yourself and what you have to offer the world your chance will come. When your chance comes you give it all you have within you and then never take your foot off the gas!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The city of Indianapolis has so many amazing things to do and explore. If my best friend was to come for a week I would take her first to our downtown area. We would purchase scooters and ride around until we made it to the canal. We would rent a pedal boat and sail down the canal while we take in all the views and all of the amazing art! We would then take our scooters to Mass Ave and grab a milkshake from a Gordan’s Milkshake, a black-owned restaurant in one of the most artistic and beautiful spots in Indy. I would take her to all of the art galleries and to the Madam CJ Walker building to take in all of the history of African Americans in the city. We would go to live poetry with That Peace Open Mic created by one of the most amazing black poets in the city, Mariah Ivey. We would go to the Jazz Kitchen and hear music from a phenomenal sax player, Rob Dixon. I would take her to every black owned restaurant in the city. We would explore all of the local artists on First Friday. First Friday is something I look forward to! The first Friday of every month artists from all around have shows to showcase their work. The entire city showcases and it is a great way to support artists and to take in beautiful art. I could go on and on but me being a creative I would let her explore all forms of art this beautiful city has to offer!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to my dear Grandmother, Nora Mckinnis. When I was younger, she saw me, all of me. She encouraged me and always spoke life over me. She told me that I was special and she recognized the gift of art inside of me. She told me that whatever my heart desires that I can receive it if I have faith and put in work behind that faith. I named my business after her. Although she is no longer with me on earth, her name is signed on every piece of artwork I have created, her name is in magazines, her name is in museums, her name will live on forever through my work!
Facebook: Ashley Nora
Haley Rose Photography @haleyrosephotography Khaila King @thekkreatiff