Ashleigh Coleman: Hold Nothing Back
Several years ago, Alexa Dilworth and I had the great pleasure of juroring the Slow Exposures: Celebrating Photography of the Rural South Exhibition in Zebulon, Georgia. We selected Ashleigh Coleman’s work as the grand prize winner and she was awarded a solo exhibition the following year. I loved her work and one of her photographs hangs in my office where I can see it’s tenderness on a daily basis. I follow Ashleigh on instagram and was excited that she was having a show of new work at the Fischer Galleries in Jackson, Mississippi. Titled Hold Nothing Back, the exhibition runs through April 3rd, 2021. All work created in 2021, Hold Nothing Back shares the travails of parenting during the pandemic, when days drift into more days, with energies unchecked balanced by moments of calm, each with its own special beauty of sorts. There is a wildness and a sameness to pandemic days and this project is a diary or sorts, moments of madness and beauty in a time of not knowing.
Ashleigh Coleman was born in the mountains of Virginia, reared in South Carolina, and for the last decade has lived in rural Mississippi. Through her work, she is looking for her way home, searching for joy in chaos. In the meantime, her work has been exhibited across the United States, including solo shows at the Fischer Galleries in Jackson, MS, the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture, and the Claire Elizabeth Gallery in New Orleans. Her work has also been shown at the University of West Virginia, the University of Southern Mississippi, Barrister’s Gallery in New Orleans, the Griffin Museum of Photography, the Soho Gallery, the Bo Barlett Center, and is currently part of the traveling exhibitions, Looking for Appalachia and A Yellow Rose Project. She is the 2020 SouthArts State Fellow for Mississippi.
Ashleigh is a founding member of Due South Cooperative, which has exhibited work in TN, MS, GA, and SC. Her work is included in a number of private and public collections, including the MS Museum of Art. Coleman’s work has been published in Oxford Magazine, Garden & Gun, Southern Living, as well as featured in Remembering Emmett Till by Dave Tell. IG: @ashleighcoleman
Hold Nothing Back
Children hold nothing back—living somewhat feral days. There are heights of wonder, depths of terror.
They are fully themselves, but what if I slowly discovered I am not who I thought I would be as a woman, as a mother? Everyday mishaps feel jarring. Noise threatens to unglue. Baking rarely occurs. I am terrified of being used up, of losing myself, of not actually knowing what coherent adult thoughts feel or sound like anymore. Capturing the collision between childishness and adult expectations illuminates a dim path through the Sisyphean mess. Perspective charges the horizon: maybe not in that exact second, maybe a year later. These are deeply personal days, rooted in
this particular place, this season; yet, these are also common-to-us-all moments of tension and joy.
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