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The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

Artists of Asheville

Romero and Elle work alongside each other in West Asheville.
Romero and Elle work alongside each other in West Asheville.

Asheville is known to be a lively city made up of many creative citizens. Explore Asheville defines the city as being known as an epicenter of art in the south east. 

Naomi Harper is a 22-year-old artist who was born and raised in Asheville. She has dabbled in many different mediums throughout the years but has primarily focused on making music under the name Ghostdaughter. 

“I have been recording and performing music under various monikers for the past five years. I also write poetry,” Harper said. 

Harper explained her creative process and said it can feel quite vulnerable at times, so she most enjoys creating everything in her room without a witness. 

“My process is usually a combination of collecting ideas and phrases and arranging them out later, or just sitting down with a guitar and letting it flow,” Harper said. 

Harper said her current favorite musical artists include Nicole Dollanganger and Ethel Cain.

“I love southern gothic stuff, I love mixing tender emotions and grotesque imagery,” Harper said. 

Harper said she gets inspiration from her own life but others as well. She said that she thinks of everything in her life as a means to making art, while also taking inspiration from people like Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton and Dostoyevsky, describing them as confessionalist poets. 

“I try to stay open to everything. I think an outfit or a conversation can be just as artistically rich as a song or something more formal,” Harper said. 

Harper said that not everything she creates is meant for the public to see, and art is allowed to be a private form of therapy.  

“There are absolutely pieces I want to keep private. I would say most of what I make falls into that category. A lot of writing is throat-clearing, saying what I need to say before I can say what someone else needs to hear. There are also songs I have written for a specific person who is no longer in my life, so those songs will remain just between us,” Harper said with a melancholic smile.  

Harper said music production and songwriting will always be important to her but she is also interested in trying different mediums such as videography and photography. 

“Anything with old tape and film is interesting to me at the moment. I like the roughness,” Harper said. 

Harper said she will be releasing a new song titled “Doll” on Feb. 23. 

The art scene is described as buzzing according to Explore Asheville. Inspiration is endless as numerous galleries of different mediums cover the city. Asheville holds galleries featuring pottery, wood sculpture, jewelry design, painting and more. 

Louise Comeau, age 20, described herself as living in Asheville her whole life. She said she enjoys working with many different mediums such as watercolor, acrylic, pencil, collage and fiber work such as knitting and felting. 

Comeau walked through the details of her creative process.

“When I want to make something I have an image in my head of what it will look like and I’ll make a draft or sketch of what I want to do. Other times I just make stuff and enjoy learning through trial and error or when I need an outlet to express something. I like how trial and error can teach me patience,” Comeau said. 

Comeau said she is drawn to the “Super-flat” art style and other forms of Japanese styles. She said she uses random objects to inspire color and shape within her creations, as well as using her feelings as a form of inspiration.

“My favorite artists I have stayed interested in throughout many years are Aya Takano and Fiona Hewitt. I love Fiona’s art because of how retro and colorful it is and Aya Takano’s because of how unique and interesting each painting is and how she experiments with different themes all being portrayed by these cute little cartoon girls and Geishas,” Comeau said. 

Comeau said she enjoys working with mixed media pieces, and using any material she can get her hands on. She said the possibilities of creating are endless. 

“I like to create art because it can be good for you, like how knitting is good for your memory or how creating can provide you with an outlet to express thoughts, ideas and emotions in a way that is completely personal,” Comeau said. 

Comeau said she most enjoys creating art in her bedroom where she has a spacious desk she can lay all her materials out on. She said she occasionally has pieces she doesn’t want to show to the public, and would rather keep private. 

“Sometimes I like to keep it to myself like a diary,” Comeau said. 

Comeau said sometimes she does not want to share her art if she feels like it is not good enough but making mistakes is still important as it helps one grow as an artist. 

“Sometimes making art can be dissatisfying or disappointing if it doesn’t come out as you wanted it to but I’d say most of the time during and after making something I feel at ease and fully comfortable and myself because it is 100% mine and even messing up helps you perfect what you’re doing,” Comeau said. 

Currently, Comeau said she is working on trying to get better at a technique called intarsia where one creates an image or pattern within a piece by knitting different colors of yarn. 

“You have to weave and calculate a lot which makes it tricky but fun,” Comeau said. 

Bryan Romero, 22, has lived in Asheville for 12 years and has been practicing the art of blacksmithing for 10 years. 

“Whenever I was 12 I got some blacksmithing tools from my mom and began learning how to make little rings made out of coins,” Romero said. 

Romero said he now works with fine metals, primarily being gold and silver. He said the mediums he works with would be described as hand wrought fine metal items and artisan jewelry. 

“Well I work on an anvil out in the elements which is often freezing cold and I work through the winter and through the late nights, and I typically use more hand tools rather than power tools. Sometimes I use a blowtorch or drill though,” Romero said while walking through his creative process. 

Romero said he is most inspired by other artists and is always keeping an eye out for something unique. He said he is most motivated to create when he stumbles upon a technique he has never seen before and wants to try something new. 

“I am always fascinated by what others can create with metal and I love to experiment with different tools and methods,” Romero said. 

Romero said he is also inspired by the concept of human error. He said ruggedness can make a piece more interesting and personal. 

“I am most inspired and motivated by the philosophy of Wabi Sabi and the beauty of imperfections and flawed items,” Romero said while twirling one of his handmade rings around his finger. 

Romero said he makes figurines and jewelry with the intention of giving them away, but sometimes it is hard to get rid of a piece that you put love and time into. 

“Sometimes the coolest stuff comes from a really strong urge to create something for someone you love dearly and so you pour emotion and intention into a piece for this person and it comes out so much more beautiful than you even anticipated and then you just want to keep it because it’s so beautiful,” Romero said. 

Romero said he is currently working on learning to make molds with clay for small figurines  and is experimenting with different kinds of metals such as tin.

Romero’s wife is an artist as well, and he said they love to create alongside each other even though they prefer different mediums. 

Tira Elles, 20, was born and raised in Asheville. She said creating alongside Romero allows her to bounce ideas around with another artist and they are endlessly inspiring each other. 

“I create a lot of mixed media and really enjoy sewing. I also like making jewelry out of elements from nature like bones and seashells,” Elles said. 

Elles said most of the time she can be found drawing in her sketchbook and likes to use charcoal, water color, pen and pencil to draw. She said recently she has been playing around with digital drawing, screen-printing and black printing as well. 

“I got this I-pad to do a lot of art on but I usually start on paper first because it just feels better and then I’ll take a picture of the paper drawing when it’s done and upload it to my I-pad to be able to digitally draw on top of it and clean up the lines and make the images look more sharp or crisp,” Elles said. 

Elles said there is variety and also consistently within her creative process. 

“There’s a lot of different processes for whatever kind of art I want to create but I usually try to put on music and go outside. A lot of the time I’ll also be in a social situation and can kind of escape by going into the art,” Elles said. 

Elles said she is most inspired by nature and the motions, patterns and colors that exist within it. She said that each landscape, each yard, each forest or trail she visits hold various forms of inspiration and ideas. 

“I feel very entranced whenever I’m creating and even when things don’t turn out the way I want them to I often will do stuff on top of that and make it into a piece I do enjoy,” Elles said. 

Elles said when she is creating art she feels connected to the environment as well as feeling the closest to her core that she possibly can. She said she describes creating as feeling in tune with herself and the world around her.  

“I have done art my whole life, and I’ll do it until the day I die,” Elles said.  

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