52onfilm is a photo essay and interview series celebrating the female creative spirit. It is an exploration of women as subject: makers, thinkers, creators, artists – powerful forces driving the world forward.
I met Ashley in the parking lot at Deception Pass not really knowing what to expect. We’d never met, and only exchanged a few emails when I’d asked her to participate in year-long project photographing 52 creative women on film. The sun hung heavy in the sky, tinged more pink than usual with smoke. We chatted about dance and living as creatives in Seattle – we had both received degrees in dance and discovered similarities in our college experiences.
Dancers spend most of our lives surrounded by our own reflections. Floor to ceiling mirrors line most studios and for hours at a time, we scrutinize that reflection, making minor adjustments and hoping the resulting effect creates a more elegant line, a better image. But what I love most about the way Ashley works is the way she flips that approach, drawing movement out from deep within. She’s such a magical, powerful soul, I’m so grateful she was willing to contribute this beautiful interview to 52onfilm.
You can follow along with Ashley on Instagram.
Who (or what) do you consider to be the greatest influence on your work?
I consider the greatest influence on my work to be the invisible, the unseen. The abundance of energy mother nature has to offer. There is something deeply intuitive to be explored in connection to the earth: the plants, the animals, the elements, and their magic. Since my birth out of this world, I have experienced many encounters with spiritual activity and communication. My life path as a witch, psychic, and energy healer has opened many doors that I channel during movement investigation, and these are my soul ingredients of motivation to move.
Do you have any special rituals that you practice regularly in order to achieve your creative goals?
As a movement artist, I am most interested in the practice of improvisation. My personal practice pulls from rhythmical roots as an earthly being. To begin my exploration of movement, I guide my mind and body through self-curated visual prompts, applying ideas from those of astral projection and scrying. For instance, one of my favorite structures: You are leading yourself on a path through the forest, stumbling upon a tree with a hole in the trunk, climbing down the hole through the body of the tree, which then leads you to an opening to another realm… so on and so forth, all the while taking physical/ emotional/sensory inventory. I find that following these visualizations takes me out of my ego-driven, judgmental mind – away from my classically trained tendencies – and allows me to just be, trusting the inner currents of my body and not concentrating too much on what the movement looks like over how it feels in the moment. I enter a trance-like state, often not actively conscious of the movements I am executing. Some may view this as a disconnect; however, these are the moments I feel most at home with myself. Improvising is a way for me to continuously build and rebuild, construct and deconstruct my relationship to my internal earth, to be an embodiment of the repurposing of energy. I believe improvisation is the practice of asking yourself a question, planting some sort of seed in the universe, creating an energetic residue that saturates the space long after you’ve stepped away from your practice.
When or where do you feel most energized?
I feel most energized when surrounded by nature. Whether that is during a walk through my Seattle neighborhood, taking in the sights and smells of gardens and native flora, or on a hike through the mountains, breathing in the forest air and absorbing healing energy from the trees. When I am outside, I am inspired by the intricacies of the earth: the way leaves shift and overlap in the wind, the sound rain makes as it collects in a pocket of soil, the call and response of living things. When I tune in to the harmony of the universe, I am motivated to formulate movement concepts. Whether it is a physical interpretation, a musical thought, or an idea for a movement piece- this is my creative safe space. We are surrounded by nature 100% of the time. We do not need to go out in the middle of nowhere to find it. We, as humans, are nature. It is true that my personal preference is to be deep in the woods, lost in the curiosities of the land. However, my constant challenge for myself is to bring that same mentality to channeling the present nature, wherever I am.
Know someone who would be a good fit for #52on film? I’d love to hear about them.
Anna Peters is a Portland and Seattle Wedding Photographer creating fine art film photography for weddings, lifestyle-inspired portraits, and artists. Her work is dedicated to cultivating creativity, wholehearted living, and meaningful travel.
Based in the Pacific Northwest, Anna is inspired by the rich and varied landscapes of Washington but also travels often, capturing destination wedding photography for couples worldwide, from intimate Iceland Elopements to elegant Tuscany weddings. You can view her full body of fine art wedding photography, here.