East Texas Native
"My mission is to reveal the beauty, story, and complexity of nature that is already there while creating a way for others to enjoy nature daily in their homes in a simple but stunning and timeless way." ~ Ashley Brightwell
"Artists to my mind are the real architects of change, and not the political legislators who implement change after the fact." - William S. Burroughs
A Deeper Dive
My NatureWorks are both physical remnants and digitized fossils documenting my life-long journey to understand the miracles and inherent rules of the natural world in a deeper intentional way.
I was raised on a small homestead in Fairplay, TX with parents that encouraged me to ask deeper questions about all things from micro and macro. In my childhood years most of my time was spent outdoors exploring the lush East Texas landscape alongside my family and the animals that were there on the farm. Many evenings it was almost ritualistic to take a nice slow ride or walk up and down the oil top roads observing nature. We highly valued time outdoors together as a family and always returned home from a day of adventures outside with questions and a few souvenirs in which we would routinely investigate together. My parents would always refer me to the seemingly vast household library full of reference books and assist with my research. I took pencil to paper quite often to draw trees, leaves, eagles, dogs, butterflies, bugs, mimicking these things from the land and the library. Looking back, these were the times that shaped my curiosity and intrigue for the world around me.
In high school I signed up for art class and won a scholarship, but I had already made up my mind from an early age that I wanted to be an architect. My grandpa was an architect, and sitting behind his drafting table in front of blueprints with a pencil and eraser got my engines revved. Building the environment we live in always appealed to me, even though at the time I had no idea how deep "Architecture" was. When I graduated high school, I left the laid back East Texas life to pursue my dream of being an architect. Architecture school taught me how to formalize my thoughts, and turn them into physical answers in the form of space, time, light, and our movement through them. Studying the rich history of the built world by traveling and seeing it in the flesh, "learning the rules in order to break the rules", and pushing boundaries to enrich the future of human experience became my obsession. It was quite clear in this journey that nature always held the top pedestal when it came to inspiration and information in architectural design. We mimic nature every day in our buildings, from cladding to structural elements, to urban design. When I learned of the Fibonacci Sequence (Golden Ratio/phi), my life changed forever. So many of the questions I had as a child on that small farm were answered. It was a big "light bulb moment" for me personally, to realize the ubiquity of this fundamental characteristic of the Universe. Everything is connected and in ways that we're only beginning to understand. Every form, in every scale, in every fiber of our being, the Universe is entangled. Flower petals, seed heads, tree branches, mycelium, shells, pinecones, fruits, vegetables, spiral galaxies, hurricanes, animal bodies, DNA molecules, animal flight patterns, are all examples of its functionality in nature.
Since that day I knew that I eventually wanted to find my way back to East Texas to incubate my learnings and explore more about the "why" and "how" of nature's realm and make things of beauty from it in the wake of my studies. After two decades of establishing a professional career as an architect, and accumulating a deep network of friends and colleagues, I made my move back to the landscape in which I am so familiar to pursue my next chapter.
My mission is to reveal the beauty, story, and complexity of nature that is already there while creating a way for others to enjoy nature in their homes in a simple but stunning and timeless way. Beauty is nature's tool for survival because we protect what we fall in love with. We're hard wired to do so, from hundreds of thousands of years of trial and error. From our very first moment on this planet, we recognize beauty, its visceral. Our initial attraction leads to connection, intimacy and bonding. What makes love last is our desire to nurture and protect. How will we protect our natural world?
Nature lies at the intersection of art and science. Art looks at something as beautiful while science observes it in relation to its function. Nature uses beauty as a tool to master function and to further evolve its species. Since nature is the basis for the laws governing the universe, one could argue that beauty is our most powerful tool to not just survive, but thrive. All creatures respond instinctively to beauty – color, taste, touch, smell and design. It’s critical that scientists across all disciplines study the fundamentals in nature and art and look to the systems and structures of the natural world to solve our greatest problems.
We are at a critical time in history where we will depend heavily on advances in natural science and improved clean energy technology to eradicate global warming and climate change. These issues are no longer myth, they are fact. I've worked in both the oil/gas and timber industries and there are ways of doing things in a responsible and sustainable way. My greatest opportunity as an architect and artist is to inspire a generation of change agents by revealing the mysteries of the natural world in a beautiful way in order to remind you of it's magnificence. To fall in love with it over and over again. When we fall in love with nature, we will instinctively protect it.