We got to chat with artist and all around inspiration, Ashley Lukashevsky, this month about the inherent politicization of art and artists, the importance of community care (hug your friends!), and doing the splits between the dream-states of Hawaii and LA. We love Ashley for their vibrant, potent, and hopeful artwork and even more so for their sweet and calming nature. Enjoy :-)
Poignant art can be so reflective of its time and place in history. The topics your art covers are inherently political, visualizing body politics, intersectional environmentalism, police + prison abolition, and even more directly political via creating art for voting campaigns. Have you always known your work would take a political tone, or did you find it turned this way out of an understood necessity?
I think it’s a combination of both. I didn’t pursue art in my undergrad because at the time I ignorantly didn’t see how I could effect change through art. I didn’t realize that until later, when I first got into design and wanted to amplify political movement-- which then quickly turned into creating politically charged illustrations. When I first started illustrating, I felt that it was vital to make outright political statements with my art, because especially post 2016, it felt like an assault on our rights every single day. I’ve shifted a lot in regards to responding and speaking directly to specific devastating events each time they happen. I’d focus on rather drawing the future in which we are safe and treated with care and love and visualize forward.
We see your work as an interpretation of how the world can and should be, which confronts the deeply intertwined and delicate balance of intimacy and gravity. Art, even political art, can be such an intimate reflection of the artist and their experience. What are some things we can’t learn about you from your art? Are there favorite sides to yourself that we as viewers don’t see?
Hmmmm…. This is such a good question! I think that in a lot of ways, my art is really reflective of who I am-- playful, colorful, passionate. I try to add little silly moments of play into my art as well as a lot of tenderness and people holding each other. I’d say that that’s indicative of how I make my friends cuddle me constantly. I think that my art is probably more serious than I come off in real life though. I’m pretty giggly. I love teen dramas, bad bad bad romcoms, face jewels. I stop and talk to every dog I pass.
There is a tangible tenderness in the characters you create. They are focused on self and community care, touch, abundance, and comfort. What are some ways that you focus on these aspects of your own life and self + community care? Do you have any rituals you’d be willing to share with us and our readers?
Allowing myself to be vulnerable and leaning on my friends has been vital. They’ve held me through so so much, especially in the past couple of years. Continuing to build and invest in my relationships with people in my queer community is everything. Having relationships where I feel seen and held and where I can envision new futures is life-giving. My own rituals include conversing with plants, learning about and utilizing plant medicine (like dandelion tea! I actually don’t smoke weed), connecting with my ancestors, and praying at my altar. I also really have been leaning into my Taurean abundance ways, and surround myself with beautiful objects, smells, fabrics, music, and food.
Lastly, talk to us about home. I know you are moving from Los Angeles back to your home of Hawaii, what made you decide to move back? Is home a place for you, or is it people that have pulled you back in? What do you miss most about Hawaii and what are you looking forward to having in your hands again soon?
My update is I will most likely be bi-coastal for the time being! As things are opening up in Los Angeles again, I’m reminded of the energy that has kept me here for so long. Hawaii is where my body feels most at peace. I know that it’s really healing for my mental health to be there, so that was a big part of my decision to relocate. I feel most at home in nature, specifically the environment I grew up in-- the beaches of Oahu, the green tropical rainforests, the breeze running through my hair. I’ve missed her a lot, and I’m excited to be spending so much time there. My entire family is on the island, my aunties live across the street from my apartment, and my sister works down the street. My chosen family is mostly all in LA though, and that’s what’s pulling me to keep a tether here. Thinking about fostering community in both places makes me happy.