#LOCALartIs Ash Nicholson


Ash Nicholson is a local photographer, artist, and poet born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Currently residing in Moon Township, she is now a Point Park University MA student, but devotes the rest of her time to her art. She sat down with us to talk how grunge, the Lord of the Rings, and nature itself has helped shape her works’ unique aesthetic.

Tell us about Ash Nicholson Photography.

Ash Nicholson Photography actually started out as Somber Dawn Photography, which was a strictly nature photography project I started while I was the Campus Snapshot photographer for Chatham University’s chapter of Her Campus. One of the truly remarkable things about Chatham is that it’s abundant in natural beauty and quiet. It makes for an excellent playground for photographers. So what would happen is that each week I would end up with so many photos of flowers, trees, plants, and even some local wildlife that it would make it impossible to choose photographs to have published. It seemed like the natural choice then to start the project. Eventually I changed the concept to include my travel photography as well and, well, here we are.

Photo by Ash Nicholson.

If you could describe your art in one word, what would it be?


What are your favorite subjects for photography?

My favorite subjects are flowers and landscapes. One of my favorite photographs is a picture of cherry blossoms I took almost two years ago. It’s simple, a cluster of Cherry Blossoms against a bright blue sky. However, the simplicity of it is what I find the most beautiful.

I also adore travel photography, particularly when I get to photograph natural landscapes of wherever it is I’m going and/or interesting aspects of said places.

Photo by Ash Nicholson.

What role does the Pennsylvania landscape play in your works?

The Pennsylvania landscape plays a large role in my work. One of the greatest things about Pennsylvania is that it’s actually pretty diverse in the types of landscapes you see around here. We have mountainous landscapes towards the center of the state and beautiful forests throughout. I have a sweetgum tree in my own yard that showcases beautiful red foliage in Autumn. I feel as if I took the natural beauty of this state for granted as a child, and photography has definitely allowed me to regain an appreciation for the landscape.

Ash in a Pennsylvania woods, one of her favorite subjects.

What has inspired you to push your creative boundaries?

My main drive for my creative boundaries is music and literature. I am a huge fan of Tolkien’s works, where nature plays an important role within the narrative of his encompassing legendarium (for heaven’s sake, there are characters that are walking, talking, breathing trees!), as well as epics such as the Kalevala. In terms of music, I listen to a lot of folk music, metal, and the grunge bands of the late 80’s and early 90’s. The eclecticism of my media choices has lead to the overall appearance of my work.

Photo by Ash Nicholson.
The life cycle itself also has inspired me, specifically the concept of death – which sounds dark, I know…Is it not amazing how when we die and are buried, our bodies decay and become food for other creatures or plants?… In a way, death begets life and helps life flourish. I always found it fascinating how a concept in which humans consider the end of everything can actually be a type of new beginning.

Nature is always changing. The beauty of the flower or leaf lasts for a day to a few days before the leaf falls or the flower wilts, and then in Spring, everything comes back to life.

What other projects are in the works?

I recently delved back into the sphere of drawing and painting after pushing it to the side for a few years. I mostly create pen and ink botanical pieces, but – on occasion – I do portraits, as well. I’m planning to launch a new website called Ash and Briar, specifically for those this Spring with some prints available for anyone interested.

What do you hope to do next with your photography in the new year?

I hope to do more travel photography! Some of my best works have come from my travels, and I hope to keep sharing my adventures with those willing to join me in the fun.

Photo by Ash Nicholson.

To explore Ash’s art or to contact the artist, you can visit Ash Nicholson Photography at the official website: https://ashandbriar.wixsite.com/ashleynphotos

Photos courtesy of Ash Nicholson Photography.

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An Egyptian-American poet, freelance journalist, educator and Pittsburgher for almost a decade now, Onastasia Youssef writes on local art events from museum exhibits to music performances. She is an alumna of Chatham University, where she studied both English and Art History, and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree at Duquesne University. When not exploring the riversides, cafes and cultural spots in the city, she is often delving into her favorite novels or watching a black-and-white or Bollywood film.