Student Profile - Ashley Newchurch
Fiber arts major Ashley Newchurch frames artistic and unique future
Ashley Newchurch has always been interested in art and chose to attend Lamar University to pursue her dreams. Her interest in art comes from finding something that she was good at and from enjoying creating things others can appreciate.
A native of Chicago, Ill., Newchurch moved to Houston at age seven to live with her dad and her stepmother, after the death of her mother. Her dad passed away seven years later. “My stepmother has been the main reason I’ve come so far,” she said.
Newchurch first heard about Lamar through her sister, Nekisha Quinney, who graduated from Lamar with a bachelor degree in corporate communications in 2004. “I would spend some spring breaks in Beaumont with Nekisha,” she said. “Lamar University became my comfort zone.”
Although she was accepted to other colleges, LU was her top choice. “The art department is what convinced me to stay,” she said. “I made so many connections that I felt it was my own special community.”
Newchurch used to picture herself working as an animator for companies such as Pixar or DreamWorks. “I was told there was a man, Kelly Asbury, who graduated from Lamar and went on to do the animation for the movie ‘Shrek’,” she said. “So I started off as a graphic design major in hopes of following that dream.”
After a few semesters, Newchurch realized the program was did not match her interests because it related more to advertising than illustration. “I changed my major to art education, and I fell in love with one of the required courses, the textile class,” she said. “I will be graduating with a degree in fiber arts.”
Along with studies, Newchurch has enjoyed her involvement in organizations at Lamar University. She was the T-shirt designer for the poetry association Poetic Souls and was an active member and then the secretary of the National Art Education Association, the leading professional membership organization for visual arts educators. “Those activities were a great experience full of educational workshops,” she said.
Newchurch is now completing an internship at the Dishman Art Museum on campus. “I am currently working on a children’s program for the museum,” she said. “I also set up and take down art and handle paperwork for events. I learn a lot about the museum side of art.”
Newchurch’s LU college experience helped her define and set her goals.
“In art, there are two main options, the curating side and the creation side,” she said. “I prefer the creation side of art because it is more of a hands-on experience. I would rather make art than teach it.”
In her free time, Newchurch loves to read and watch movies. “My dad was a movie fanatic; that’s where I got it from,” she said. “I own hundreds of movies at home, and I love going to the theater.” Newchurch also recently found an interest in learning other languages. “Once I graduate, I will be able to spend more time learning.”
Five days after graduation, Newchurch will be flying overseas to visit graduate schools in England, Switzerland, and Scotland.
“I would like to thank all of my Lamar professors,” she said. “They told me I could go anywhere I wanted. They put that idea of traveling into my mind, and I can’t get it out. The easiest way to travel is through school, so I will try to get accepted for a second degree in textile conservation.”
Along with applying for graduate school, Newchurch is trying to get a residency at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. “The deadline for applying for European schools isn’t until November so until then, I will try to acquire new skills,” she said. “I was interested in quilting which brought me to working with thread. I want to continue this focus.”
As her Lamar professors taught her, the world is full of possibilities and, through Lamar University, Newchurch has found multiple windows to succeed.
“Being away from home for five years has prepared me for the future,” she said. “In 10 years, I would like to be living somewhere in Europe. It isn’t a concern what profession I will be in, as long as I am happy. That is all that matters.”