Ashley West Leonard

Born in Vermont and based in Los Angeles. Ashley spent most of her life in front of the camera. After performing and studying in NYC, London, and Los Angeles, Ashley received an MFA from the University of California, Irvine, where she taught acting. After many years pursuing an acting career, she started taking pictures with her first camera, a Samsung flip phone, and fell in love with the still image. Ashley has had her work exhibited in galleries across the US, and in online collections.


The images in this series are conceptual staged photographs about what the inescapable obligation of a 9-5 job feels like.

In my mooning youth, I amassed skills at the same rate as I accrued debt but I was certain I’d be able to reconcile the two as a working artist someday. When it became apparent that paying rent had taken priority over being artistically fulfilled, I slipped into the velvety cage of adulthood and have been unable to find a way out ever since.

Monday through Friday, I put on a uniform. I smile when I’m not happy and promise to do things I don’t enjoy. I’ve withheld the truth 1,305 times when asked how I am, and I forge a face that belies the irrefragable failure I feel with every breath I take. I’ve breathed in and out 6,013,440 times.

Maybe I hope that exploiting my agonies will make them sufferable somehow, like sunshine to mildew. Or maybe those agonies will be recognized by you, acknowledged as a rite of life, and then this work will exist for a reason.

To view more of Ashley West Leonard’s work please visit her website.