Ashleigh Barice always stood out in college, not because she towered over most of us, all five feet and eleven inches of her, but because of her inherently chill demeanor and an electric laugh that filled every room she stepped into. Painfully beautiful and stylish, she was one of the girls who could make just about anything work. I remember begging her to start a fashion blog so that I could glean insight into the certain sense of self she possessed. Ashleigh politely laughed off my request several times, if we’re being honest. A daring woman of many talents, she’s lived a fascinating life since
college, including calling Europe home for the last decade and generally doing whatever it is that strikes her fancy. What my classmates and I have admired about Ashleigh can’t be explained with a formula or a guide. It’s just impossible to bottle up her zest for life and easy nature. She’s best understood through observation when she’s dancing in her element and being generous with her energy. For Ashleigh, her happy place is a chilled glass of white wine at a sidewalk cafe with old friends who indulge in candid thoughts on all things art, human rights, politics, food, and travel.
Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? Has that influenced your lifestyle today? I primarily grew up on the Westbank – Marrero/Terrytown, Louisiana. I would say that it has in a variety of ways. Specifically, my diet. I am a Louisiana woman at heart. I eat alligator, boudin, chittlins’, this list continues.
I am currently based in London and have previously lived in both Liverpool and Paris. Being based in a metropolis such as London, I have learned to embrace the beauty and aesthetic of form meets function. I can’t always be “cute”, as English weather is ever-changing and often very cold and wet. However, it has led me to invest in functional clothing items that closely resonate with my personal sense of style.
I have also embraced a more minimalist mindset and lifestyle. However, I have not perfected this. More is not always more. Space in Europe is more limited than I am accustomed to so this has taken some adjusting but not too much. I have learned to buy what I need and cut down on waste as much as possible. Especially when it comes to grocery shopping. I very rarely buy in bulk and have learned to utilise local food and farmers’ markets.
“Being based in a metropolis such as London, I have learned to embrace the beauty and aesthetic of form meets function.”
What do you do for a living? If you didn’t have to work, what would you be doing? I run an itinerant/nomadic gallery space called b.Dewitt. I also do some writing from time to time! If I didn’t have to work, I would be traveling around the world, reviewing food, wine, culture, and art.
Tell us about your life as an art gallery director! It seems so fascinating. As we are still a small space, gallery director is a sexy term for nonstop admin. I will say that a perk of maintaining our particular gallery space is having the ability to platform artists with practices that simultaneously engage in both the social and the political.
Any advice for the girls next door who appreciate art but don’t quite know where to start in bringing art home? Firstly, art is becoming more accessible, both to view and to purchase! This is part of b.Dewitt’s ethos. Also, support local artists! Be sure to check out art markets as well as open studios. This may serve as a soft landing into the art world.
On love and friendships… I have enjoyed friendships more in my thirties as I feel that I am at a place where I crave authenticity in my friendships as well as my intimate relationships. I’m not interested in interactions for the mere purpose of passing time. I prefer genuine connections; “fakeness” is of little-to-no interest to me. In love, I blame rom coms! They have ruined our perception of love.
In my experience, if “love “isn’t based on mutual respect…NEXT. In both friendships & love, I have also learned to be very careful with whom you surround yourself and associate with, standard I know. The past few years have taught me to be careful of those in your life who act as if they themselves have nothing to lose because they will treat you as if you also have nothing to lose and nothing good will ever come from these relationships.
On your American upbringing..I am a result of an American Suburban upbringing, I was the Black Emo kid. In prepubescent years, my friends and I spent a lot of time outside fishing, riding bikes, picking berries, building forts, and the list continues. I will proudly say that I will forever be grateful for experiencing a childhood pre-social media, though I was fully addicted to The Sims.
Was there anything your family did well? Not so well? I commend my family for providing access and opportunity to me by exposing me to so many different people from a multitude of backgrounds and histories. This being said, I do wish that they would have pushed me to travel more and to explore more possibilities outside of my hometown.
What do you wish Americans would do more of? Less of? I wish that Americans would vote more and waste less.
What about American women inspires you? Assertiveness!
International women? This is a difficult one as, globally, we all have so many different things to offer. I would not know where to start.
What do you think we could adapt from other cultures? I think when looking at other cultures in general, we should learn to value appreciation and avoid appropriation, if this is even possible.
What does your best life look like tomorrow? In five years? My best life tomorrow looks like fulfillment. Being true to myself, anxiety free. In five years I wish to look back and say well done!
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”— Audre Lorde
Describe your home. What do you want family, friends, and visitors to feel in your space? I have actually just moved house in London! I love my new house! It is an old 19th century house! My room is adorned with brown shag carpet, probably from the seventies, high ceilings, 2 large front facing windows and a nod to mid century decor.
How involved are you in its design? As it is a shared home, I focus most of my creative energy into making my room a personal oasis. I am also using it as an excuse to build a personal art collection!
What’s your favorite part of your home? Why? My room! As a woman who deals with the design of various art spaces, having a personal space that is not only a direct representation but also an extension of you can be utilized as a form of self-care.