Beauty, grace, poise, and a quirky sense of style–Ashley Thames Brown is the kind of mom we all hope to one day be (or marry). But as if raising two bright, friendly girls isn’t enough, Ashley is also an artist and an advocate for interfaith tolerance.
Ashley works with mixed media, combining found objects, vintage photographs, acrylic paint, and other materials to create art that ranges from the serene to the funky to the flat-out uncanny. Ashley is inspired by spirituality and often covertly weaves in her missions statement: “God loves us all the same.”
While her works have been included in group shows and sold at charity events, Ashley says her biggest success so far has being featured at her local Starbucks. “They allowed me to hang my work for a month, and through that I met the most amazing people bringing so much joy to my life in such a short time,” she says.
Artistic talent runs in her family, so it’s no surprise that Ashley is finding success in the art world. “We are peppered with artists, designers, writers, musicians, singers, a filmmaker and the family is loaded with teachers, who are in my opinion, the ultimate creators!” she says with pride.
Ashley doesn’t need to be holding a brush in her hand to give out an artistic vibe, though–she also expresses herself through her feminine, boho chic style, which is a mix of high and low, old and now. As she describes it, “I’m a little schizophrenic with my style. Old and new, couture mixed with Target, small town with an urban touch.” Ashley finds boots at belts in north Fort Worth and mixes funky jewelry and purses with classic pieces from Gap and J. Crew. She cites her grandmother, affectionately called Mimo, as a huge inspiration–in fashion and in life.
Ashley, who has B.A. in art history from TCU, cites the Modern in Fort Worth as her favorite art museum in the Metroplex. You can view her art at her website, www.ashleythamesbrown.com.
Ashley is also deeply involved in spiritual growth and recently ended a four-year stint leading a women’s group at her church, Greenland Hills Methodist Church. “I loved being around these amazing, strong and flourishing women,” she says. “I hope to go back to it one day, but leaving it for a while has freed me up for my other passions: learning more about world faiths, writing my blog, Soul Flung Open, practicing yoga, and traveling with my family.”
The red-headed artist and mother believes strongly in religious tolerance and understanding. “I have a strong call to bridge people of other faiths,” she says. “I know God’s love is bigger and wider than a Texas sky, with plenty of room for everybody no matter what they believe and I have an intense desire to help bring that to light.”
She’s also passionate about several charities, including Women to Women International and Chase’s Place School for Special Students.
Ashley hopes to pass this philanthropic spirit along to her two daughters. “My proudest moments as a mom come when I see my children being kind — to others, to animals, to the earth, even to each other! When they are good citizens of the world, I am so proud I could bust!” she says.
Ashley, who is about to celebrate her twentieth wedding anniversary with her husband, Brian, puts her family before her artistic and charitable pursuits. She spends much of her time making sure her two daughters (Kylie, almost a teenager and already articulate and kind beyond her years, and Keira, a vivacious seven-year-old) do well in school and pursue their own passions (baking for Kylie, gymnastics and roly-poly collecting for Keira).
Though Ashley’s own mother died when Ashley was just nine years old, she remembers her as “an amazingly mature young woman who put us first.” Ashley found a savior and role model in her grandmother, Mimo, as well as in her step-mother and mother-in-law. “I don’t have an example from my mother to follow, but losing her has offered me the opportunity to watch and learn from other mothers in my life,” Ashley says.
Her own proudest moment as a mom so far? “When each of the girls were toddlers, they would reach up and say, ‘Hold you me.’ It absolutely melted me every time,” she says.
Of course, she must balance motherhood and her other pursuits with being a wife, and she says the secret is “forgiveness and time.” She adds, “We both work hard at extending grace to the other and giving each other the benefit of the doubt. If you are going to practice grace out in the world, you better practice it at home first. It doesn’t hurt that Brian’s cute and takes really good care of himself, either!”
As she and Brian raise their two children, Ashley has a lot of perspective to share on being a mom. “Moms give out so much of themselves, it’s important to recharge and invest time and energy back in,” she says. “Moms need to be encouraged by their loved ones in the areas that give them power and fulfillment outside of motherhood. It makes them better moms!”
Ashley says her dream is to see her two girls grow up to be exceptional women making the world a better place. With a role model like Ashley, there’s no doubt that they will.
Erica Lovett is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, and writer who has been living in Dallas for eight years. It’s not her native city, but once she arrived, she bought a pair of cowboys boots and decided to stay. She’s frequently out and about in the city, discovering the best restaurants, events, and entertainment the Big D has to offer.