One of the great pleasures of attending the SPE (Society of Photographic Educators) Conference in San Francisco, was the Friday night Portfolio Walk, where hundreds of students and educators spread their work onto long tables in the atrium lobby of the hotel where conference was taking place. When I arrived at Ashley Kauschinger’s table, her project, Hot Skin, looked familiar (she has been featured in Lenscratch exhibitions), but more importantly, it stood out from the sea of surrounding images because of her ability to infuse light and drama into her evocative work.
Ashley lives and works in Denton, Texas. She is a fine art photographer who creates autobiographical staged dramas. Her current focus is the investigation of daily life that results in ambiguous narrative images. She received her BFA in photography from Savannah College of Art in Design in 2011, and is currently studying with Susan kae Grant in pursuit of an MFA in photography from Texas Woman’s University. Ashley has recently received recognition from Photographer’s Forum, National Geographic and PDN. Currently her work can be found in Emerging Photographer magazine, in the exhibition, Intimacy and Voyeurism at Rayko Gallery in San Francisco and ONWARD Compe at Basho Projects in Philadelphia, both exhibits juried by Todd Hido. Upcoming, she will be in the PDN Photo Annual as a Student Winner, will be in the exhibition, In Your Dreams at PhotoPlace Gallery, juried by Susan Burnstine which opens April 17th. Her work is also in the online exhibitions iSpy: Camera Phone Photography and Both Sides of the Lens through the Kiernan Gallery in Virginia.
Hot Skin is an investigation of everyday life that reflects upon the past and the present. The series shares commonplace emotions and moments that overlap with the lives of others and connect those lives in understanding. This connection is created through a set of themes and symbols that are present throughout the series. Implemented themes include sex, long distance communication, domestic living, relationships and moments of transition.
These themes are examined through ambiguous, narrative self-portraits and still lives within personal environments. Each of these narratives has a sense of tension to create an emotional atmosphere to reflect upon. Tension is formed in each image by pinpointing a moment between two places or times, staging scenes with layered meanings that pull against each other, and using available light at sunset. Symbols representing a personal mythology such as cloth, food and hair are also present and repeated throughout the series to create a sense of familiarity with the viewer.