Ashleigh Coleman: “It’ll Do Till A Mess Gets Here” “It’ll Do Till A Mess Gets Here” Photography by Ashleigh Coleman Awarded Paul Conlan Prize, 2018 Stricklands in Concord Internal © Ashleigh Coleman Growing up, I internalized a model of ideal womanhood as one fulfilled by responsibilities as a mother. She decorates winsomely for holidays; plans elaborate homemade birthday parties; spends hours playing games with her children. But, what if I slowly discovered I am not who I thought I would be as a woman, a mother? What if “[t]he evidence of my life lay before me, and I was unconvinced.” * Don’t Swallow Me Up © Ashleigh Coleman The reality is that every day mishaps feel shocking. Noise threatens to unglue. Baking rarely occurs. I am terrified of being used up, of losing myself, of not actually knowing what coherent adult thoughts feel or sound like anymore. Mercifully, I discovered that photographing the frustration, which often results from childishness colliding with adult expectations for the productivity of a day, illuminates a dim path through the Sisyphean mess. My internal landscape quiets. These are my people. Much needed perspective charges onto the horizon; maybe not in that exact second, maybe a month or two later – they are growing – destructive curiosity mellowing, possibly. Humor returns. “It’s a mess, aint it Sherriff?” “If it aint it’ll do till a mess gets here.” ** These are glimpses into a woman coming to terms with the quotidian mystery of motherhood, into staking out the joy in the chaos, into being mother and being photographer— outside, looking in; inside, looking in— into learning to be here. Locked Out © Ashleigh Coleman For now, it’ll do. * Leif Enger, Virgil Wander ** Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men Ashleigh Coleman was born in the mountains of Virginia, reared in South Carolina, and for the last decade has lived in rural Mississippi. Her work explores ties to family and to land. Ashleigh Coleman © Michael Foster Her art has been exhibited in shows across the United States, including her solo shows Runes at the Fischer Galleries in Jackson, Mississippi and Piece of Heart at the University of Mississippi. Ashleigh’s work has also shown at the Griffin Museum of Photography, Soho Photo Gallery and iloni Gallery in NYC, the University of West Virginia, the University of Southern Mississippi, Southeastern Center for Photography, Barrister’s Gallery in New Orleans, and is currently traveling as part of the Looking at Appalachia 2019 exhibit. Ashleigh is a founding member of Due South Co., which has shown at the Cotton Museum in Memphis, Slow Exposures in Georgia, and the Dickies Building in Jackson, MS.