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Meet Ashton from Essex, Iowa

About Ashton - Class of 2015

From: Essex, Iowa

High School: Shenandoah

Academic Interests: Art, Theatre

Extracurricular Interests: Theatre Central

Makeup Artist

For the Lemming Race during Homecoming weekend—a Central tradition where students dress up in costumes, run down the Peace Mall and plunge into the Pond before singing the school song—Ashton Mayer and her friends dressed up as trolls. Not the ugly, hide under a bridge and feed on passerby kind. But the cute ’90s toy—with big colorful hair.

Usually, though, Ashton is transforming other people into loveable or monstrous creatures and characters—as part of her work in hair and makeup for Theatre Central. As an art major, the creations come easy to her. “I love the art forms that go into the blending and the shading,” she says.

Ashton grew up in Shenandoah, Iowa, “getting into things and making a messing of my mom’s house.” She was in kindergarten when she realized art was her favorite class, and since then it’s been a haven for her. “It was just one place where I could go and feel secure and like I was doing something I really loved,” she explains.

An odd cross between a tomboy and a diva, Ashton describes herself as a “farm girl, born and raised.” She was a member of 4-H and showed cattle for eight years, during which time she especially bonded with her dad. But she was also in dance for 10 years, where she relished putting makeup on herself and the other girls. So it was a natural transition between those messing-around days and the hard but fun work of her first show at Central, “Murdered to Death.”

But Ashton’s artwork isn’t just the temporary transformation of people’s bodies. She describes herself as a mixed-media artist who dabbles in everything. Beginning with drawing, she progressed to painting on photographs and then printmaking. In the Visual Language class, the final project was creating an entire book—cutting the paper, doing the illustrations, gluing it together and making the cover. Ashton’s book incorporated ink paintings and Shel Silverstein poems.

“It was a cool culmination, and it solidified everything I had been thinking and my passion for art,” she says.

Ashton isn’t sure yet where she wants to go with her major—she’s considering teaching or art therapy—but she is excited to study abroad in London, which is a world-class destination for the arts.

“I’m looking forward to figuring out my place and where I’m going to end up,” she says.”

That could be teaching kids watercolor, making up the big cats for “Lion King” on Broadway,” selling her art in galleries or anything in between. That’s what makes a liberal arts education at Central such a great investment: the journey transforms you and the destination is where you want to be.

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