ARTS Pick: Ashley Florence at Community

Ashley Florence image at Community Photo: Will Solis Ashley Florence image at Community Photo: Will Solis

For those who have a taste for things handmade and a craving for a blend of art and fashion, Community is a small gem tucked away in Downtown Charlottesville. A warehouse-turned-art collective, this newly opened shop located next to Random Row Books brings a specific vision and a hip aesthetic to the area while remaining accessible to the viewer. In addition to handmade jewelry, clothing, ceramics, books, and furniture (all created by local artists), a series of photographs by Charlottesville native Ashley Florence is now on display.

Florence’s show almost acts a patchwork quilt: the separate photographs stand as works in their own right, but lend to each other when viewed in succession. They form a sort of portrait of the artist as seen through her own lens, in addition to actual self-portraits that are part of the show. Close-ups of plant life, a portrait of a young child covered in a fishnet, and a solitary figure in a night scene do not seem to connect immediately, but when viewed as a whole it becomes apparent that the quality of light is what makes this show cohesive.

There is an ambiguity to the work, as the details and specifics of the images aren’t as important or as interesting as the play of light, the richness of color, and how the forms interact in these compositions. When interviewed by Community, Ashley expressed an interest in “how the lens exaggerates and seductively enhances the texture of reality,” and this comes across in the works shown here. Her background as a painting student of the Kunsthochschule in Germany lends to a focus on composition and color. The artist also lists memento mori and found photography as influences in her process, but the idea of a photograph as a performance is to be noted as well. Two large prints show how the artist stages herself as “falling” from the sky into everyday landscapes, all with a sense of whimsy. —Megan Zalecki

Check out Community’s blog, HelloCommunityTumblr, to learn more about upcoming events and First Friday receptions.

“Eight New Photographs and Two Older Bigger Ones,” by Ashley Florence

Through November 30 Community, 315 Main St