Ashley Perez: Common Ground

January 10 - February 3, 2024 San Antonio

Ruiz-Healy Art is pleased to present Common Ground, a solo exhibition of works by San Antonio artist Ashley Perez, on Wednesday, January 10th, with an opening reception from 6:00-8:00 PM. Common Ground will be on view at our San Antonio gallery through February 3rd, 2024. There will also be an artist walkthrough of the exhibition on January 13th, 2024, from 1:00-3:00 PM. This collection evolved from a year-long exploration of San Antonio's nature trails, where Perez engaged with individuals entering and exiting these curated natural spaces. This project was made possible with the generous support of the City of San Antonio's Department of Arts & Culture #GetCreativeSA.


Ashley Perez's work embodies connection through community, “I set up a table and posted a sign that said “free art” near trailheads and made small drawings of birds native to the area to give away to the brave souls who decided to talk to me." In creating this space, Perez collaborated with people from all walks of life, “I met friends consoling each other after a bad break up and groups of kids taking advantage of Pokémon Go's community hours. My favorite was a little girl and her grandmother. After I explained what I was interested in talking about, the grandmother had the girl list all the bugs and plants she saw and why she came.” These stories, combined with Perez's reflections, guide each artwork. Perez's artistic expression comments on the ecological dynamics in South Texas through representations of native flora and fauna. The artist states, “Symbolic elements like circles and Coral snakes represent our connection to the earth and the regenerative state experienced while walking or biking.” 


Despite being paved, the trails that Perez utilized offered communities a chance to reconnect with nature's healing powers, even if just for an hour, something extraordinary after the COVID-19 pandemic, where people searched for an escape from the chaos that haunted 2020. “Each painting, drawing, or mixed media piece is an opportunity to reflect on my journey and explore how the natural world can help us better understand ourselves. Whether using a waterfowl to navigate a difficult memory or a hummingbird to encourage slowing down, my work is always infused with introspection and reflection.” For Waters, Perez used an 1885 map of the Yanaguana River as a guide, “I marked its various curves with dust from an iron oxide rock I found on a bench. Each drawing is arranged like a clock and works to keep time and reference the life cycle of water, creating an overall meditative effect.” Abstracted forms in atmospheric colors represent San Antonio's natural landscape and create rhythmic, harmonious forms that shape the exhibition.


Perez advocates for the vital role of “third spaces,” otherwise understood as places beyond work or school that are free and accessible in the community. From a female perspective, these places offer a somewhat safe space to commune with nature because they are populated by other visitors, maintenance people, and park police. In these “third spaces,” one may find noteworthy plants and animals that encourage a pause for closer observation or symbolic elements like circles and coral snakes, representing our connection to the earth and the regenerative state experienced while walking or biking.

Installation Views