Artwork Spotlight

Artwork Spotlight: Ashley Showalter’s And Yet We Rise

In the Artwork Spotlight series of blog posts, The Layered Onion highlights a specific work by an artist in the community. These works could range from short stories to visual art to music and more!

Today, Ashley Showalter (she/her) will be sharing her mural “And Yet We Rise.” 

Ashley is an self-taught artist and peer mental health advocate with lived experience with mental illness. She began creating artwork as a survival tool for her own mental health and now uses her creative abilities to start conversations about the topic of mental health. Ashley is currently living in Oklahoma City. She hopes by sharing her work, someone might find hope and confidence in their path, feeling less isolated while managing or processing mental health struggles.

In February Ashley participated in the Recovery Mural Project community art program in coordination with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. The goal is to spread the message of recovery through the visual impact of art. The murals promote recovery, reduce stigma and bring awareness to mental health and substance abuse services within reach. And who doesn’t love outdoor art?!

Ashley Showalter, “And Yet We Rise.” Posca paint pens on board, February 2022.

Ashley Showalter is the first local artist to contribute to the project. Her mural, “And Yet We Rise,” was installed Thursday, Feb. 24, at HOPE Community Services, Inc., 6100 S. Walker Ave., in Oklahoma City.

“I wanted this mural to be a realistic depiction of having hope in recovery,” said Showalter.

“Throughout my healing journey, I have had many difficult seasons where emotions were not fun to feel that were followed by periods of joy. I think we can all relate to having different experiences of feeling in life.”

“Recovery isn’t linear,” she added. “My goal is for this mural to serve as a reminder that hope is always there, even when we don’t think it’s possible in the present moment.”

The excerpt above comes from the full press release here.

Ashley also took the time to participate in a Q+A with The Layered Onion:

What influenced your choice of color for the piece? I find it bright and inspiring. The face is so expressive of the struggle but also positivity and hope.

I usually don’t draw smiling faces but they wanted the piece to be positive and represent Hope in recovery. The face reminds of a smile where you are faking it til you make it – which seems fitting as sometimes you have to work through difficult times in recovery and fake your smile. My art style is always bright colors with bold black lines so of course I went for a bright look for the mural as well! 

What medium did you use?

I drew the original painting with posca paint pens on a board. Then, it was photographed, turned into a large vector that was printed on vinyl and installed onto a surface called “Alupanel” that was screwed into the wall. 

How did you decide to break up space in the piece?

I drew the sun first since it was the center piece of the mural then the other sections behind. I wanted to break the background into different patterns representing different aspects of mental health recovery. The rain represents “stormy” or difficult times which lead to the flowers for “growth” or times of posting change. The black and white stripes represent the challenge of black and white thinking in recovery and the clouds represent how our judgement can be clouded sometimes. 

Any other info you would like to share about how the project came about?

I was sitting on a mental health recovery coalition when a state mental health department representative mentioned the idea of starting a recovery mural project. I’m known for my art and doodling during meetings and trainings. I reached out and got an interview for the mural. The partner organization loved my art and recovery story and I was hired for the project! 

As a neat addition, you can watch a short video of Ashley creating “And Yet We Rise” here which gives you unique insight into the process.

You can check out more of Ashley’s work on her website and her Instagram – @ur.fav.trash.

Thanks, Ashley, for sharing this inspiring mural! No matter where we are at, we have the power within us to rise.