Male Barbie with KFC, by Ashley Uzer, 2017

It’s difficult to be really money-motivated and artistic.

Anyone who’s in a creative field — whether it’s music, fine arts, or fashion design — knows that it’s not the most lucrative profession unless you happen to get really unusually lucky.

When I quit my job in New York City last August to move back home and pursue work that was fulfilling, varied, and allowed me to make my own schedule, I anticipated doing a lot of drawing and painting. First off, I’d have way more time (or so I thought). Second off, I’d have much more space to sprawl out canvases, inspirational print outs, and obscene amounts of paintbrushes — something I didn’t have in my tiny Upper East Side apartment.

When I first got down here, I jotted down idea after idea of paintings I wanted to create via the notes app on my iPhone, and spent hours doodling intricate birthday cards for friends and family — something I would have never made the time to do before. And yet, instead of finally taking time to pursue my creative passions and hone my painting skills, I fell into a demanding project manager role at a digital consulting agency and enrolled in an MBA program at American University. My time quickly became consumed as before, with deadlines, invoices, and final exams.

Black Barbie with Ramen Noodles, 2017, by Ashley Uzer

When I first wrote a description of this series of paintings that will be on display at BloomBars, I mostly focused on American society’s obsession with having the “perfect” body, and how in these images I’m contrasting that with our nation’s fast food culture, and lifestyle. Because the figures are bodies of dolls there’s an additional creepy but also funny layer in the way the figures connect to childhood, and play. The doll forms are easier to look at than images with more realistic human figures. They’re exploited, but not in a “bad” way. Weirdly enough, it feels like somehow this juxtaposition applies to my current artistic rut, and attempts to “have it all” (or, more appropriately, “do it all.”)

The problem is, as a freelancer who has so many projects and deadlines on her plate, it’s difficult for me to find the motivation to paint. The finished products may end up just sitting in my basement. So while I’ve finally gotten to a place in my career where I feel more confident financially, and professionally, I know that if I spend less time on work and more time on painting, I may “fall behind.”

Barbie with Blue Slurpie by Ashley Uzer

That’s why being part of this show is fun for me. I know not everything I create will be presented, purchased, or even liked — but this opportunity has given me a kick in the butt to dedicate more (or, any) time to my artistic passions. One thing I have done with these paintings since their completion back in 2016 is get some of them scanned and made into prints. One from the set is hanging in the Galore Media office in New York, and another in an Upper West Side apartment building.

Collectively, as a society, we have a list of things we’ll do when we have the opportunity. But, after suffering a medical scare early this year, I’m beginning to realize that we don’t all know if that day where we have more time will ever come.

I’m hoping to finally sit down and create more artwork now that I am healed from the operation I underwent in January, and hoping to be part of more amazing projects like this one.

Artist Ashley Uzer

Ashley Uzer is an artist, writer, blogger, and digital consultant. She covers art and fashion for DC Magazine, and has bylines at Bustle, Babe, and Galore Media. She also writes about food and fashion on her personal blog, loxandleather.com, and consults for many local businesses. Her favorite artistic subjects are people and food, and her preferred mediums are graphite and paint. Born and raised in the DC suburbs, she recently moved back to the area after spending five years in Philadelphia and NYC, but she is frequently traveling. Ashley studied Design & Merchandising at Drexel University with a minor in Fine Arts. She is now in the process of getting her MBA at American University. Ashley loves meeting new people, but hates small talk. She gets restless when she’s in the same place for too long. If she could only wear one color for the rest of her life, it’d be red. Her happy place is somewhere warm, eating chocolate chip cookies for breakfast, and listening to pop-punk music from 2006. Her ultimate goal is to be able to write, paint, and travel while making enough money to buy a salad in NYC without wincing at the register. In 2018, Ashley hopes to create more art, see more cities, do more yoga, and continue to live life to the fullest.

This article was created as part of the BloomBars: imPrint project, a publication series connected to an exhibition at the Gallery at Bloombars April 14 – May 5, 2018.

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