Va. Beach teen’s art is on the move

First Place

Ashley Anderson


Artistic inspiration takes many forms – Vermeer had a girl with a pearl earring; Warhol had a Campbell’s tomato soup can. Ashley Anderson has a 1966 Ford Mustang.

“It’s my prized possession,” the 18-year-old senior said of the classic car she drives to school.

So when her art teacher at Cox High School suggested Anderson submit a piece for the annual Congressional Art Competition, there was no question she’d select the chalk and oil pastel portrait of her beloved “D,” named for the intentionally backwards letter spelling out “Ford” on the car’s hood.

There’s “a lot of history and it’s been a lot of places,” said Anderson of her Mustang’s appeal. She and her dad, Mark, shipped the car home from Texas after finding it on Craigslist, flying out to see it and buying it “on the spot.”

Anderson recalled being “almost intimidated by it” as a then-15½-year-old with only a learner’s permit, sitting behind the wheel of the iconic white vehicle with its black vinyl interior.

“It’s a big car,” she said, “not literally, but figuratively.” She was humbled by the opportunity to have such a “great car,” she said, as well as by the responsibility of taking care of it.

Ashely with Ridgell

Anderson’s art competition entry, titled “White Horse,” is based on a favorite photograph of the car, she said, taken in a neighborhood near the Lesner Bridge. At a reception earlier this month, she learned her artwork won first place from more than 20 entries submitted from Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District.

In June, she and her parents will attend an awards ceremony in Washington, during which she’ll get to meet other winning high school students from around the country, as well as the president, provided he’s available. Her artwork will hang in the U.S. Capitol for a year.

“It’s pretty cool,” Anderson said of the portrait’s temporary home, “but I’m gonna miss that piece.”

Sadly, when Anderson heads to James Madison University in the fall she’ll bid farewell to her car for a year, too. But the extra hubcap she plans to take with her and hang on her wall will hopefully ease the separation.

How long have you been doing art? Since I’ve been able to hold a drawing utensil.

Which mediums do you prefer? I am most comfortable with graphite or ink drawings, but I do love oil and chalk pastels when I want my piece to be very colorful.

What inspires your artistic pursuits? Things I visualize when I listen to music, metaphors I see in everyday life, or anything I find appealing to the eye that would be fun to draw.

What do you enjoy most about expressing yourself artistically? When I think of an idea in my head, I can put it down on paper and have it forever. Having a hard copy means I’ll never forget it.

What about art do you find most challenging? Thinking of innovative ways to represent something is difficult. My teacher showed us many methods I would never have thought of.

Who was your motivation for submitting artwork for the Congressional Art Competition? My art teacher, Sue Frost, told me about the opportunity and I respected her confidence in me.

What do you hope to say to President Obama if you meet him? “Hello Mr. President. It’s an honor to meet you.” Because saying “Hey Barry!” would probably be inappropriate.

If a snapshot was taken of you enjoying a perfect day, what would it look like? I’d be posing during a hike while my family and I eat a packed lunch on the side of some new trail.

Favorite gadget: An iPod auxiliary cord for my car.

Favorite movies: “Anchorman,” “The Prestige” and “The Guardian.”

Celebrity crush: Chris Hemsworth, the heartthrob who plays Thor in “The Avengers.”

Favorite Virginia Beach spot to hang out with friends: I find the Chesapeake Bay a very comfortable and relaxing place to unwind with everyone.

Pet peeve: When people sit with their mouths open.

Career ambitions: I want to get into some sort of publication design, like for a magazine.

Favorite study-time snack: Chips and salsa

A TV show you never miss: “Wilfred”

Of what achievements are you most proud? Finishing the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon in 1:49:59, climbing Half Dome in Yosemite before dark, and finishing high school with a pocketful of lessons learned.

Something you’ve done that others might not expect of you: I spontaneously got my cartilage pierced recently.

If you could invite three people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be? Jimmy Page, Teddy Roosevelt and my great-grandmother.

Three songs on your summertime soundtrack: “The Joker,” Steve Miller Band; “Baby, I Love Your Way,” Peter Frampton; “Saturday in the Park,” Chicago

Good luck charm: The ribbon I wore for my lacrosse team’s semifinal game. It was an amazing day and it always reminds me that things can work out in your favor if you try hard enough with the right attitude.

What you’re most looking forward to with summertime right around the corner: Being really close with all my friends before we say goodbye to go to college.

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