Who are you? Who, who…

Ashley Mintz ‘Express Yourself’  (Acrylic on Wood)

It was my pleasure to help Nashville artist Ashley Mintz hold a series of workshops this past winter and early spring, which culminated in the April 20th opening reception for her ‘Who Am I?’ project…


Raw Materials

Ashley was thinking about the importance of our childhood through early adult years, which inspired her to create “Who Am I?”.  She sought and received support for the project from the Nashville Metro Arts ‘Thrive’ program and Vanderbilt’s Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy.  With their sponsorship Ashley was able to facilitate seven 4-hour small -group workshops with participants ranging in age from 6 to 90…


Fan Zhang “Untitled”  (Acrylic on Paper)

The first part of each workshop began with writing exercises which moved participants through time, allowing for reflection on their childhoods.  These memories were then shared during a group discussion about growing up.  “What was your neighborhood like?”, “Who was your best friend?”, “What did you want to be when you grew up?” and “What do you miss most from being a child?” were some of the many questions discussed during the workshops…



Miss Brenda “Mom” (Paper Collage)

One of the coolest and unexpected outcomes of these workshops was seeing total strangers became companionable acquaintances as each discovered their shared commonalities. As the group opened up to each other their stories were able to serve as reference points for Part 2: populating small hand-made books with quick paintings as an exercise in art journaling…


Anonymous (Acrylic on Paper)

Finally, the third part of the workshop used the writing and painting exercises as springboards for each person to create a unique self-portrait and complimentary writing piece in which they answered “Who Am I?”.   All 42 of these images and writings, regardless of the maker’s age, education, talent or craft, are moving in uniquely different ways…


Ashley Mintz “Practice Face” (Acrylic and College on Paper)

When asked about the importance of art in her life, Ashley replied that “art is the mediator between the loud and the silent, the doing and the being. I find that when I paint, draw or write, I am essentially in a meditative state where the world around me becomes small and the world I am creating is enhanced.”


Lydia Macklin “Untitled” (Acrylic & Collage on Paper)

The funniest part of the entire process was when Ashley and I were talking at the reception and realized she had not written one single thing during the workshops, which wouldn’t be a big deal except she sees herself as a writer first!  After a few laughs and a bit of celebratory brainstorming we decided to rectify her writing oversight with a regular Friday night adult poetry slam, giving both us a reason to explore who we are (and throw a ‘show close’ party in September!)

*Who Are You – The Who


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