Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post ran in 2022. We’re publishing this update in honor of our February 2024 exhibition, PINK!, which includes work from Ashley DuRard.
During breakfast, an unfertilized egg escapes, slips, sloshes over the side of a spoon. In Ashley DuRard’s work, the uncooked egg drips down a thigh and into a puddle of blood on the floor. “My work is exploring the unconventional beauty and sensuality of women and the female form,” explains Ashley, who created her Eggs and Legs series with a delicate blend of graphite and runny acrylic paint.
Inspired by personal experiences, the Phoenix-based artist explores the female body by focusing on the three primal matters we associate with womanhood: rich yellow for egg yolk, clotted crimson for menstrual blood, and cloudy white as a metaphor for milk. “[My] goal is to create works of art that challenge what is conventionally beautiful,” Ashley writes in her artist statement. “I use eggs and fruits as the connection to femininity and female sexuality. Focusing on how the legs and feet are viewed is a way of challenging what is conventionally beautiful.”
Squatting, standing knock-kneed, sitting on the toilet with shopworn undies slung around their ankles—the women in Ashley’s work are relatable, awkward, and exquisitely beautiful, rendered with soft, dissipating lines and tender brushstrokes that fade into the ether. Reminiscent of Degas’ willowy charcoal studies at the Paris Ballet, Eggs and Legs brings the sensual body into focus, allowing bare limbs to gently sink under clouds of paint, only to have them rudely resurface elsewhere in weighty, insistent lines.
Guided around the contours of the female body as if by memory, Ashley creates a mind-body map, plotted with the lasting emotional impressions of pain, pleasure, ambivalence, and embarrassment. While every female-identifying viewer undoubtedly has a different map, reddened by agonies and brightened by ecstasies in their own particular places, Ashley’s original diagram remains universal in its vulnerability.
Scroll through to see Ashley’s work, then head to our February 2024 exhibition, PINK!, to see her submission, “Untitled 2.”
“[My] goal is to create works of art that challenge what is conventionally beautiful.” — Ashley DuRard
All photos published with permission of the artist(s).
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