Ashley Virginia Rugge is an interdisciplinary Artist, Creative Mentor,  Contractor, and Gallerist. She lives with her Husband, 3 kitties, and honeybees on San Juan Island.

Artist's Story

The Way I was called to Art

When I was 19 years old I experienced an acute illness that required I stay at home for many months. That was the beginning, really, of a life awakening, my life awakening to the dreams of my heart. To this day I am still quite shy with new people until I am able to find the golden thread between us, the honey of humanity that connects us. Art eases that path of connection for me. As I believe it does for all humanity.

Prior to my illness I was on track to become a journalist. At that point in my life I had no idea I was an artist. I simply felt a growing longing in my breast and an ache in my bones. Something the Germans Call- sehnsucht.

My body recovered by the age of 20 and I was preparing still to return to University and study journalism. I was offered a scholarship and talking with the counselors, all the while this sehnsucht continued growing inside of me.

Finally I heard the voice of my longing on a trip to the Atlantic one night with my friends. Looking out over the horizon into the vast black seawater I knew my next move and it wasn't University. 

" I want to go back to Germany and learn to paint from my mom." this longing within me said. 

“And so you will.” the sea answered back.

And So I did. I boarded a plane and went to sit at her feet, the feet of my mother.  And I asked  her to teach me. Which she thankfully accepted. She was and still is a great teacher to me. She allowed me a great deal of freedom to develop my own voice. Introducing me to mediums and allowing me to develop my skills and style as I was called. 

That was simply the first step though. For there was no happily ever after success story immediately to follow, is there ever?  In all actuality it was quite different. For I took the road less travelled and though it certainly has made all the difference. They never tell you that it, too, requires more persistence than a well trodden jaunt.

Even in this new found world of learning from my mother. I felt lost and broken open by this sudden change in my life's imagined trajectory. Any loss causes grief, and from this change I had much to grieve.

Feeling this sense of loss and lost I took to the fields one autumn night under a big glowing moon.

Moved I was, simply, moved.

And so I moved my body and I knelt upon the earth crying the soft tears of this loss and I asked the earth for help. "I'm lost" I said, "I've no idea what I'm doing. Please Help me. Show me. Guide me." 

Since that moment I feel the earth has shown me my way, and more she has taught me to paint and to make art from her body. So I get to have two moms teaching me, my earth mom and my human mom.  And some other fantastic mentors too. Hmmm I just realized maybe that’s why I feel called to paint so many Madonnas! Hah!

I believe, like the surrealist Roberto Matta and Friedensreich Hundertwasser after him, and many indigenous cultures before them both. That the earth is a person. That we are a part of her skin as much as she is a part of ours. We are meant to exist in symbiosis with her. And since the moment of asking and thus dedicating my life's work to her, I have experienced the immense and very subtle magic of such a relationship.

I feel the earth is reteaching me her language. And that each of my art pieces. Whether painting, film, poetry, or storytelling is like a translation through the symbolic verse from the earth to me to people. But sometimes it is also just for her.

I could fill a tome with my adventures in this subtle yet immense magic.  But I believe my bio is already a bit on the long side so I shall have to leave you here with the simple nature of my art. Being that I am an Earth Artist through and through.