Bio & Statement
Ashleigh Sumner (b.1979) is an urban contemporary artist living and working out of downtown, Los Angeles and East Oakland, CA. Sumner received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Art from Western Carolina University before moving west to Los Angeles in 2003 and then north to Oakland, California in 2017.
Sumner’s early artistic career was firmly rooted in theatre arts with professional credits in stage, independent queer film and network television. Her years of experience as a performer provided a natural evolution of translating elements of text into the visual medium of painting. Sumner’s inclination toward the spoken word serves as a cornerstone to her practice. She has sought to interweave quotes, poems, rap lyrics, samples of handwriting, and pages from theatrical plays with subject matter reflective of urban West Coast culture. In addition, the selected fragments of literature within a work are often intended to make a subtle political or social statement involving class, gender, and equality.
Sumner begins each piece with the impromptu layering of found street flyers to simulate the visual texture and language found on the weathered walls of the inner city communities in which she lives. She employs a diverse spectrum of media in her work by incorporating paint, graffiti, collage along with printmaking techniques that include image transfer and silk screening. Each piece is distressed by removing layers of paint with an industrial palm sander. Lastly, resin is applied to each painting and then flamed with a blow torch to create a perfectly smooth finished to the art work underneath.
In 2020, Sumner created a new body of work on canvas as a visual diary of the Covid-19 pandemic. The foundation of this collection of urban contemporary paintings was constructed from layers of found street posters from the communities of San Francisco and Oakland. The found material served as a time marker; many of the collected posters were a reflection of the awakening of racial rage and inequality along with flyers of public events that dissipated as Covid-19 overwhelmed the county. Each painting was physically distressed, torn and sanded down to the point of deconstruction. The collection of work was presented as a solo exhibition with the College of Marin titled, "Mortem | Renovamen: The Covid Diaries."
Notable museum exhibitions include the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art's JUSTICE (2020) which was curated by nationally recognized gallerist, Karen Jenkins-Johnson, founder of the Karen Jenkins-Johnson Gallery of San Francisco and Brooklyn. Sumner's work was awarded Honorable Mention by Karen Jenkins - Johnson for the painting, "American Idiot."
Curated exhibitions include "Street Preachers" an exhibition of selected female street artists of Los Angeles. The exhibition was mounted in collaboration with the Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock with awarded grants from the Los Angeles Arts Commission and the Pasadena Art Alliance.
Additional awards include the juried panel winner of the Red Bull Curates Competition for Los Angeles. As a result, her work was highlighted in a special exhibition with SCOPE, Miami that year.
Partial Collectors List:
Bryant Gumbel - television journalist, New York, NY
Richard "Rip" Hamilton - former professional athlete, NBA - Miami, Fl
Hannah & Derek Jeter - entertainer and professional athlete, MLB - Florida
Lynda Resnick - owner, Fiji Water and Pom Juice - Los Angeles, CA
Tomas Jegeus - Vice President Fox Studios - Los Angeles, CA
Eric Goodwin - NBA Agent, Goodwin Sports Management - Seattle, WA
Laura Kimpton - artist - San Francisco, CA
Gay Rosenthal - producer - Los Angeles, CA
Vivica A. Fox - actress, entrepreneur - Los Angeles, CA
Robin Weigert - actress - Los Angeles, CA
Lindsey Berg - professional athlete, olympian and captain of U.S. women's indoor volleyball - Los Angeles, CA