Ashlee Griffiths: Editor-in-Chief, Volume XI (2014-2015)
Ashlee Griffiths is an artist, entrepreneur, and full-time customer service representative and sales support at Metro Wallcoverings in Montreal. But before all that, she was an undergraduate student in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia University. While completing her BFA she majored in Art History and minored in Spanish. She became involved with CUJAH during her first year at Concordia, starting as a Copy Editor, going on to become an Executive Editor, Assistant to the Editor, and finally Editor-in-Chief for volume XI (2014-2015). Griffiths remembers her time with CUJAH fondly, telling us, “ I still do have a portion of CUJAH in me in the sense that I love editing, and I love helping people market themselves online through the words that they use.”
She has carried these passions with her into her career, currently working on two self-directed projects. She is in the marketing-development stage of a project which offers editing services for college papers written within the humanities, specifically in english and art history. Launched in fall 2017, another of her ongoing projects is focused on helping young professionals edit their resumes, LinkedIn, and various social media platforms to help them market themselves more effectively. The goal is to enhance the online visibility of her clients to aid them in finding jobs that correspond with their degrees and interests. This project came out of the two continuing education certificates she is currently taking at Concordia,in Social Media Essentials and Digital Marketing. She feels that many recently graduated students do not necessarily know how to market themselves online and begin the job hunting process. From her experience studying in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia, she believes that there is a need for emphasis on educating students about self-marketing within their desired field, be it as an artist, historian, or anything else within the art sphere. The tools that she is continuously adding to her repertoire not only contribute to the enhancement of her ongoing projects, but also benefit her own art practice. Drawing from her Jamaican heritage, Griffiths’ work focuses on the depiction of the ‘other’ through painting and drawing.
In addition to these projects, Griffiths has been working at Metro Wallcoverings in Montreal since 2016. Metro provides wallcoverings for residential and commercial projects, and her position entails constant communication with designers, architects, and contractors to help them complete their projects from A to Z. Griffiths expressed she has always been interested in ‘spaces’: what you could do with a space, how art functions within a space, how space can be used and explored. It comes as no surprise then that these questions ended up being the central themes of the 4th Annual CUJAH Conference, Art and the Exhibition Space, which was hosted during her tenure as Editor-in-Chief.
As illustrated by her multiple independent endeavours, Griffiths plans are often self directed. When asked how she became involved with CUJAH, she said “I was always looking ahead, of not only what I could put on my C.V., but more in terms of getting involved and making sure that my experience at Concordia was going to be the best experience, and the one that I mapped out for myself.” She is passionate about the possibilities the field of publishing offers as a tool to break through the sometimes insular world of the fine arts, and its potential to provide access to the discipline of art history. While Editor-in-Chief of CUJAH she wanted to expand its discourse beyond strictly art history and touch on all of the fields within the fine arts. With the help of the Fine Arts Student Alliance (FASA) director, Jeremy Blinkhorn, they created an initiative to bring together Art History and Studio Art students through a second publication titled The Voice Of. This publication bridged these two disciplines by pairing CUJAH writers and Concordia artists together on an interview level to maximize exposure for Fine Arts students.
When asked about how her experiences with CUJAH have had an influence on her trajectory, Griffiths said:
“CUJAH made my experience at Concordia a great one, and it made me take advantage of every resource offered. It not only centered me throughout the four years, but it gave me a goal and a focus, not only to educationally improve myself, but also personally grow. I grew so much throughout that experience, and even after that experience I was able to not be afraid to take risks and to not be afraid of going for what I want full on, knowing that I have the potential to actually make changes in the art world, but also in any other projects that I might have. So that’s something that I do cherish, and even the editing process and skills that I got, working on the website, managing a team, have built me into the person I am now […] and I do think those are qualities that I owe CUJAH a lot of credit to.”