I have had the honor of interviewing many people in my short journalism career, but no one has accepted my proposal with such enthusiasm as Sarah Ashley Longshore. The expressionist was named one of New Orleans Magazine’s “New Orleans Top People to Watch” and has been featured in Elle Belgium, VIE magazine, SPUR— Japan’s number-one fashion magazine, on NewYorkPost.com, and many more.
The artist has grown an impressive list of big-name collectors, ranging from actresses like Penelope Cruz, Salma Hayek, and Blake Lively to football star Eli Manning, New Orleans media entrepreneur Bill Metcalf, fashion designer Alvin Valley, and director Paul Weitz. Longshore’s work can also be found inside Anthropologie, where she collaborates and designs home accessories. Millions of “Twilight” fans have caught a glimpse of her work in “Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1” during the honeymoon scenes. The New Orleans-based artist is no joke.
I headed over to Longshore’s studio on a hot summer day, and from her glass doors all I saw were canvases, color, Pop art, and a dog. “I’m going to like this interview,” I thought to myself. She greeted me with a hug and introduced herself and her fiancé. I spent a few minutes looking around, and then she guided me to the table to begin the interview. She gestured for me to sit in one of the chairs she created. At first I was hesitant, but she assured me it was safe.
Longshore told me that she is originally from Montgomery, Alabama, where she and her younger sister grew up. Looking at her, with her funky, the-bigger-the-better sense of style, huge statement jewelry pieces, head full of luscious waves of hair, and minimal makeup, you would not think she was raised in the heart of the South. In her teen years, Longshore went away to boarding school in Georgia and felt a sense of liberation at a young age. She continued her adventures by attending the University of Montana, where she studied English literature. At college, she realized expression through art rather than words was a better fit for her, and began painting. 20 years later, she’s still transforming and inventing.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: A million different things! I am experimenting with claymation and short films. I love creating performance art, and with the animation, I can take both my paintings and my film and mix the two. The claymation is my opportunity to literally show you how my ideas come to life in my mind—what is more exciting than that? I am also working on a VERY exciting collaboration with Anthropologie, and planning some fun inspiration trips around the globe.
Q: What’s your first animation piece going to be of?
A: My first claymation will be of—what else?—a trophy wife. Her name is “TITTY TITTY BANG BANG” (here, Longshore shows me a picture of a big- breasted claymation blonde). She starts off with a little stomach rumble, which portrays her hunger for more. She starts by shedding a tear and then begins eating her designer belongings, each piece, one by one. She gets bigger and bigger until she explodes. The end.
Q: What is this meant to convey?
A: It’s a commentary on today’s society— how much pressure women have to deal with to accumulate things. Women lust after objects and literally have hunger pangs for these possessions. We fall victim to what our environment has created as the new normal. We live in a “more is more” society. Don’t get me wrong: I loooove pretty things, but where do we draw the line between shopping for fun and shopping for emotional fulfillment?
Q: What made you chose trophy wives as your topic?
A: I am completely fascinated by them. Big lips, big boobs, and big bank accounts. Marrying an old fart for money and not love…HOW DO THEY DO IT? I am such a hopeless romantic and am such a believer in true love, I guess it’s my own quest to decipher how they trade those things for social power and luxury crap.
Q: I see a lot of paintings of men. Are you focusing on them in your new collection?
A: This new series, “WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE,” does focus on male characters—mostly presidents and political leaders (Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Louis XVI). I am exploring the role of male power in society. I find myself combining these famous male figures with humorous sayings. I think that in my own mind, I want them to make them less important than they are…I am still craving more female power in the world.
Q: Do you have a focus right now?
A: My focus as an artist is always to more completely understand my inner voice and my role in society. That is and always will be my job. I have to keep my eyes and heart open to really allow myself to feel what is around me. I must create things that express the way that I am feeling about society and culture, that provoke thought and inspire conversation, whether through animation, claymation, paintings, or furniture. If you want to be inside my brain, stop by my studio. You can stand inside of my frontal lobe and read my thoughts, haha.
Q: Are majority of your buyers women?
A: No. Art doesn’t really know a gender; people relate to a thought, a feeling, a color. It’s not about the gender of the person that painted it, or what kind of genitals the person with the credit card has. It’s about where their heart is. Buying art is all about falling in love. People fall in love with an image and they want to live with it.
Q: What inspires you?
A: I am inspired on a daily basis, on a second-by-second basis. I am excited when I wake up; there are never enough days in a week. The year is not long enough. There will never be enough time to express all of the thoughts that go through my mind to get them all on a canvas. It’s impossible, but I try my best.
Q: I know you just got back from traveling. Where’s your favorite place to be?
A: I have a constant love affair with Europe; I go at least a few times a year. My art is sold in Antwerp, Belgium and Switzerland. I get great responses from buyers there; I feel they really get the humor and the social commentary in what I do. Right now I am so obsessed with Australia. There is something so unique and interesting about that continent. I can even play the didgeridoo! I am looking forward to a big trip there this year to do some VERY cool collaborations and events. I can’t wait to continue to share my art and inspiration with the world.
Q: Sounds like you’re always on the move. Do you ever slow down?
A: No, I will slow down when I am dead… haha. I feel that right now is my prolific period. I am seeing the world, traveling, creating, being inspired. I deliver daily, I create daily. I’m like a G6 airplane—I want to be all over the place.
Q: What’s your favorite piece right now?
A: Whatever is on my easel. This is constantly changing because I am constantly creating. It has to keep evolving. Having a favorite painting is like having a favorite child…they are all my babies and they all have their own personalities.
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