Ashleigh Norman grew up in a small town in Washington State, and at the age of 13 moved to Southern California to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. She was home schooled while she worked professionally in the industry graduating high school at the age of 15. By the time she was 23, Ashleigh decided to quit the acting business and returned to school to focus on her passion for art. She obtained her Associates of Liberal Arts degree at Moorpark College and her Bachelors of Art with dual emphasis in Studio Art and Art History at California State University Channel Islands.

Ashleigh graduated with her Masters of Fine Arts from San Francisco Art Institute in May of 2014.




My current body of work began after a genealogical document surfaced in my family suggesting ties to the court of Marie Antoinette. I began thinking about my personal connection to the most notorious Queen of France—known for her excessive decadence and the gluttonous spending habits that eventually led to her beheading—and I began to question my own personal extravagances. In contemporary society, mass production is greeted with mass consumption, creating a materially obsessed culture—one of thoughtless consumerism and overall disinterest in spiritual, rather than material, wealth. In connection with Marie Antoinette’s lush lifestyle is a sense of impending doom, or a looming fate, that we as observers of the past recognize. The art historical tradition of the vanitas painting records material possessions in a critical way, serving as a reminder that you can’t take it with you.

 All of these oil paintings begin as collages that I pull together using fashion, bridal, and home decorating magazines. I employ Rococo and Baroque-era imagery to draw a parallel to the contemporary consumer-driven life. The works are painted with both alla prima and glazing techniques in many layers as I work through my own shameful love affair with consumerism and self-indulgence.


My Vanitas series paintings are recreations of 17th century Dutch still life paintings that I have modernized by using objects from my home as stand-ins for the original objects. A skull may be replaced by a mannequin head, or a pineapple spoon rest for an old candleholder as I remake these classical vanitas paintings. By substituting with these contemporary objects, I am creating a direct link from past to present. The message of the vanitas paintings was one of humility as they served as reminders of death and a warning that you can’t take it with you—material possessions are unimportant distractions from a rich spiritual life.

 In contemporary society, we are targeted and marketed to by companies—something that didn’t happen in 17th century Belgium—so we are in even more need of the vanitas reminder than they were. Since the material objects I am critiquing belong to me, there is a sense of irony as I point the finger back on myself and critique my own weakness for material objects as well as celebrate the beauty of these goods.