Ashley’s unique position, at the intersection of art, technology and mental health, stems from the steps she’s taken along her own life path. From an early age she knew she wanted to become an entrepreneur and major in art, however with it not being seen as something you could make a career out of, her family swayed her away from it and ultimately she ended up working in the mental health field for eight years.
Here she was able to combine her passions for people and supporting communities, especially the black community where she’s native to in South Atlanta, working as a social worker and with several non-profits. She obtained a Masters in Psychology and especially spent a lot of time working with sex trafficking survivors, many of whom had diagnosed mental health issues, trauma and drug addiction. However she never lost her passion for art, and when she started to become frustrated with how limiting the use of only one form of therapy is for those in crisis, she was reminded of how art had in a lot of ways helped her in her personal life when she had been faced with her own challenges.
As she began the steps to get licensed in art therapy, she was able to explore a more therapeutic approach to using art making in groups, and the results were immediately apparent. In the words of Ashley; “it was one of the only things we were able to give them which was both a healthy distraction from their traumas and an innovative way to express, and deal with, how they were feeling.” Although encouraged by this, she realized there was an even greater opportunity to use it to support the art community by building a services based company, connecting artists with therapy clients. However it took a full circle moment, when the very women she was supporting gave her the courage to take the entrepreneurial leap in to the art work, telling her that her talents needed to be on a much larger platform so that more could benefit from her work. And so in 2016, and with her last $50, she quit her job and started ArtzyBella.
Today she has established herself in not one, but two leading roles in the art community. Her company’s impactful art therapy workshops provide one-on-one support, with a number of Fortune 500 companies among their clients, and their unique online platform will give those without access to the physical workshops 24 hour access to engage in art-making, with wellness coaches, art therapists, and art instructors who are passionate about mental health and wellness. And never losing the original passion for art which has driven her amazing story, she is still in high demand as a fine artist and creative place maker for commercial development projects, using her medium to engage and develop communities. Her portfolio includes numerous commissions for her murals which adorn many notable spaces in the South East, and which we are proud to represent on our CoMission platform.
Ashley Co-Chairs Arts and Culture for Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance (the organization spearheading the redevelopment of the community of South Atlanta). Ashley is passionate about creating a strong art and culture scene in blossoming areas, and helping to drive funding and opportunities for other artists. Through her commercial and personal fine art projects, she wants to visually capture the story of black women in the South and inspire young people to shoot for the stars. “I didn’t allow anything that I went through to make me dream small” she shares.