Artist Ashley Longshore Paints the Most Inspiring Women

If you haven’t already come across Longshore’s work, her latest book, Roar!: A Collection of Mighty Women, provides an excellent introduction to the ebullient Louisiana-based artist. This gorgeous coffee-table tome features portraits of 57 incredible women, ranging from ancient Egypt’s Cleopatra to present-day tech innovator Whitney Wolfe Herd. Many of these images have been shared on Longshore’s personal Instagram and displayed at her independently owned gallery and the Diane von Furstenberg flagship store in New York, which houses the original collection of paintings. A darling among the fashion set, Longshore worked with von Furstenberg to curate the collection of women featured in both the exhibition and the book. “Diane is such a lover of women and brought great energy to the room,” explains Longshore. “She introduced me to some women that I wasn’t really familiar with, like Hedy Lamarr, Lee Miller, and Martine Rothblatt. There were a lot of women that aren’t household names who have incredible stories. It isn’t so much about what they accomplished, but the shit that they got through.” With their life journeys in mind, Longshore creates her portraits filled with vibrant color and fantastical elements. It is her unique way of honoring these phenomenal women. 

In fact, Longshore practices what her art preaches. Inspired by Dia de los Muertos traditions, she pays tribute to many of the women who she has painted by creating an altar of flowers, lighting candles, and celebrating their spirit throughout the month of October. “When I wake up every morning, I get my cocoa and light the candles, then check on the flowers and honor of these women,” she explains, showing me her display full of marigolds interwoven between her portraits of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Kahlo, and Hepburn. “I’ll be adding more—I just put these up yesterday—but it’s important to me that we honor them, love them, support them, and talk about them to preserve their legacy.” 

Given that the subjects of her portraits span centuries, I can’t help but inquire who, living or dead, Longshore would like to meet if given the opportunity. She doesn’t skip a beat before supplying the answer: Maya Angelou. “Back when she was younger, she was scared of the power of her own words and then grew up to become the greatest orator,” gushes Longshore. “The way she saw the world, the way she captured pain and could express her thoughts, it was such a gift.” Of course, as she is an artist, Longshore’s short list also includes art collector Peggy Guggenheim, essayist Susan Sontag, and entertainer Josephine Baker. As for contemporary women, Billie Eilish and Lizzo recently made the cut. “Talk about authentic, incredible women,” she exclaims. “I love that they’re unapologetic and that they know they may not be for everybody, but they are true to themselves. May we all have that much fearlessness.”


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