Black History Month – Birth Artist Ashley January

Black History Month 2024 has the theme of African Americans and the Arts. Black artist Ashley January uses her art to bring attention to the black maternal disparity crisis in our country.

“I deal with the crisis of Black maternal mortality and morbidity in America through painting and multimedia. Influenced

through my own traumatic pregnancy and survival, the images center the experiences of black mothers, birth attendants, and children who have suffered adverse birth outcomes but challenge institutional ways of finding solutions . Approaching themes through quiet, often heavy motifs, artistic environments express imposed health effects that are not equal to what is experienced. All family perspectives are considered after a tangential birth trauma survival. Continuing the delicately layered conversation surrounding Black maternal health, the images serve as a global call to action for greater awareness, research, and eradication of unnecessary maternal and infant deaths.”


Ashley January (b.Illinois, 1987) creates contemporary paintings based on her experience with motherhood. Exploring the themes of preeclampsia, premature birth, and childbirth trauma, her latest body of work continues to address the Black maternal mortality and morbidity crisis in America. Ashley was the first recipient of the Women’s Caucus for Art, 2022 Emerging Artist Award, and was selected as a finalist for the 2022 Artadia Chicago Award.


In January 2023, Ashley had the second phase of her solo exhibition, Human | Mother |Black, at Western Illinois University. Most recently, her work was featured in the New York group show, Fruits of Labor: Reframing Motherhood and Artmaking at Apex Art. He was invited to participate in the Unit London (Voices) online group exhibition Naissance/Re-Naissance. He is also involved in the London Art Fair Platform curation through the Cynthia Corbett Gallery. Additionally, the Tufts University School of Medicine’s Center for Black Maternal Health and Reproductive Justice, has acquired paintings from her series. His works have been exhibited in many places including, The Young Masters Autumn Exhibition in London, UK; the South Side Community Art Center, Chicago, IL; Mana Contemporary, Chicago, IL; SoLA Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA; the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL; Viridian Artists Inc, New York, NY; Laguna Museum of Art, Laguna Beach, CA; Pacific Art Foundation, Newport Beach, CA; and the Irvine Fine Arts Center, Irvine, CA.


Recently, she was featured in the January 2023 issue of Luxe Interiors+ Design Chicago magazine. His paintings were also featured in the television series, Kings of Napa, in SELF. In 2018, she was selected as the first-place award winner at WomanMade Gallery’s Midwest Open in Chicago. In 2017, Ashley won the Beverly Bank Best of Show Award in the Beverly Arts Center’s juried competition. When asked about his feelings on Ashley’s work and training, Dr. Joy West, MD, Obstetrician/Gynecologist at Roseland Community Hospital in Chicago, “Your work is worth it, now installed.


at Roseland Hospital, will reach women most affected by birth trauma; the underserved, the systematically excluded, the forgotten. They will be uplifted just by seeing themselves in your beautiful art. I’m sure of it. Thanks for creating and sharing all aspects of Human | Mother | Black. “Ashley will be exhibiting paintings with Cynthia Corbett Gallery from her new series, Environments of a Heavy Joy, at EXPO Chicago in April (2024). Dorman + Torluemke from January 19-March 16. Ashley earned her MFA in Painting from Laguna College of Art and Design, Laguna Beach, CA in 2017 and her BS in Communication with a concentration in Advertising and Minor in Studio Art from at Bradley University, Peoria , IL in 2009. He lives in Chicago with his family while working from home and his studio at Mana Contemporary.




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