Artisans Center of Virginia

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22 Mar 2019 - Elizabeth Ashe Auction

Celebrate the legacy of Elizabeth Ashe.


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The Artisan Center of Virginia (ACV) invites the public to celebrate the life and work of Elizabeth Ashe Hollingsworth, who passed away peacefully at Blue Ridge Hospice on May 31st, 2018.

Beginning March 23rd through March 31st, 2019, ACV will hold an online auction selling the remaining 150 pieces donated to ACV by Elizabeth’s husband, Bill Hollingsworth. Bill met with Kary Haun, Vice President of ACV’s Board of Directors and friend of Liz’s. “You know, Liz was just tickled…there was nothing she was more proud of then her affiliation with The Artisan Center of Virginia and being a juried artisan, it made her feel validated as an artist.” Bill reached out to Kary with the desire to procure Elizabeth’s remaining work to ACV as a donation, a closure he believed she would have wanted.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia, Elizabeth studied under San Francisco potter Louis Carden, and later with Bay Area potter Janet Lohr. Elizabeth returned to Virginia and in 1993 began her mask-making business: Earth, Spirits, Masks.

Elizabeth’s belief and vision: “All nature was held sacred by our ancestors the world over. Every stream, mountain, wind and rainfall, each plant and every creature was believed to possess a unique spirit which interrelated with the lives and spirits of the others. Humankind was only a tiny fragment of the whole spirit of the earth. Alone in the forest I sense an overwhelming ancient presence and a deep, profound yet playful peace which fills my heart and lifts my spirit. These sculptures represent some of my companions as I move along the path.”

“We are honored Bill Hollingsworth chose ACV as recipient of Elizabeth’s remaining works. We decided upon an online auction as our platform in order to reach as many of Elizabeth’s patrons as possible. In celebrating her work as an artist we will be sharing her inspiration and vision which resonates in each piece she created.” Stated Colleen Mayson, Executive Director of the Artisans Center of Virginia.

Elizabeth Ashe Hollingsworth – Detailed Information About her Process and Body of Work


Earth Spirits Masks:

Whimsical Earth Spirits masks were created by Liz Ashe in her studio overlooking the Shenandoah River in Virginia. The natural beauty of their surrounding’s provided a wellspring of inspiration for her work as well as rich resource for the natural material she used to decorate. Earth Spirits masks reflect the deep respect of the earth with a playful sense of humor. They combine Liz’s greatest joy: walking quietly in nature, playing with her hands and observing the myriad manifestations of the human spirit.

Nature Spirits:

In primitive times the forces and rhythms of nature more directly affected the lives of human beings than occurs today. All over the world people revered and offered homage to the spirits they believed to be responsible for the forces controlling their lives, Deities, divas, fairies, gnomes, and spirits responsible for trees, plants, animals, bodies of water, rock formations, and weather patterns were believed to possess human-like emotional characteristics which needed to be ritually encourages or placated. Masks were used in ancient rituals to evoke the spirits they represented in order to protect the community from harm. Virtually all early cultures centered around some form of nature worship.

The laughing brook, the lazy river, the dancing leaves, the protective mountain, the playful breeze, the swaying trees, the whispering grass, the raging storm are all moods of nature of nature reflected by Earth Spirits masks. They represent the nature spirits of no particular culture but the respect of nature inherent in all promotive cultures. They remind us to take time to appreciate the beauty of the planet; they encourage us to smile.

The Process:

The faces are sculpted individually from earthenware clay slabs which have been rolled out on a board with a rolling pin. Liz worked from behind the slab, delineating the features with her fingers before supporting the clay with rolled scraps of plastic. The features are then enhanced by adding and removing bits of wet clay. The face takes form and a personality emerges. Each face begins an emotional dialogue with the artist and plays a part in its own creation. The mask is finished when it says it is. No two faces are exactly alike. As the clay dries, more definition and detail are added. When the clay has completely dried, underglaze color is applied. The pieces are fired in an electric kiln to approximately 1750 degrees. When the work has cooled, an acrylic is applied in layers and the masks are ready for decorating. The artist gathered most of the natural material locally.


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