Ashleigh Alexandria, also known as Virgin Arte, is a freelance visual artist rising out of the New York creative scene. This talented young lady has an interesting style when it comes to her creative direction, paintings and street-side showcasing.
Arte was raised in Queens and New Jersey, but her trips to Manhattan inspired her artistic pursuits. Among her many projects as a visual artist, she has a dope collection of paintings in which she recreates images and cover arts of rap icons. She also paints models for her “Body Arte” series presented in short films (directed by herself). When she’s not working indoors, Arte is using the sidewalks of the Lower East Side and Soho to paint or display her work.
Virgin Arte has been recognized in many different exhibitions, magazines and artistic movements. Fans and viewers can find her artwork showcased every Tuesday night at The Delancey in Manhattan from 7pm to midnight. Also between Prince and Greene Streets in Soho throughout the week, you can find her paintings situated outdoors. Since last summer Arte has been creating an innovative business platform with her partner and photographer, using the streets as her canvas.
Arte contributes to street art culture in New York City with her creative platform, and it won’t be shocking to hear her name among the greats in the future.
What inspired you to begin your profession?
I started my profession as a freelance artist this past summer. I graduated from Hampton University in 2012 with a fine arts degree. After school I wasn’t sure how I was going to get myself to the next step. The art world can be cut throat as with any other profession. This summer my partner (who is a photographer) inspired me to take my art to the streets. I have gotten a substantial amount of business just by being available to the public.
What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far and why?
Having the opportunity to showcase at the Smack Mellon gallery in DUMBO, Brooklyn for the exhibition entitled Respond has been one the biggest highlights of my career so far. It was a show that had artists respond to the current police brutality against Black America. I painted a portrait of Mike Brown in his cap and gown as a half positive/ negative image. When I applied to be part of the show I didn’t think I would even get in, I was just applying to several different shows at the time, for the first time. Somehow I overlooked my acceptance into the show and the gallery called me because they wanted to make sure I knew I had gotten chosen. Out of 600 applicants, 200 artists were chosen, so that moment was very special for me. I was able to see how if I just apply myself I can be part of something great. It let me know that you can create your own destiny with a little determination.
How has your life changed since you began your journey and what are you expecting next?
My life has changed tremendously on this journey. I am able to come out of my shell more than before. Meeting people and expressing myself has become so much easier because my art gives me a voice. Currently I paint live on Tuesday nights in the LES with a group called The Collage Movement. I have been able to practice my craft along with other talented artists. There we just support one another. It’s a great feeling to be able to have a space to paint freely. Through this movement I have been making connections and practicing my craft. I plan on curating my own show very soon, so that’s something I’m excited and nervous about.
What characteristics do you believe are important in order to be successful and why?
In order to be successful, I truly believe in persistence. You can’t expect to make any dream you have a reality if you don’t apply yourself and go get it. Making my art my job means to me that I am putting all efforts in to accomplish goals for myself rather than for someone else.
What advice could you offer to those pursuing a career in the entertainment industry?
To the younger generation, I say to just do it. Whatever it is you want to achieve, go for it. We have all the means today that generations before us had no access to. The Internet and social media are powerful tools so use it, don’t let it use you.
What prominent individuals in entertainment would you compare yourself to and why?
If I could compare my works to any one artist it would probably be Frida Khalo. She has become popular again, which lets me know how strong her impact is as a woman of color and as an artist. Her life was at times painful but she still lived through her art. My original pieces have a surrealist approach to them like hers, I delve in between the real and fantasy world. I feel like as an artist I want to create stories with my art and how I present them does just that. Art is fiction, you get to make it all up.
How did you feel you contribute to the innovation of art?
Art itself is constantly innovative. You simply take ideas from your mind and the illusion is formed. I think it’s important to make people think with art. I was taught that every detail in a piece needs a meaning. I don’t believe that for every art piece, sometimes there’s no meaning at all but for me I strive to create a meaning. When I painting positive and negative images I want to show that other world. I want to show my subjects soul so to speak. When I paint my body art images I want to make a fantasy story come to life with candid moments. So ultimately if my art can make you think or wonder, then that’s the type of influence I want to be.