The cover artist for the summer issue of The Public Eye, Ashley Lukashevsky, was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, where she was involved with activism from a young age. Her life took a detour, however, when she attended University of Southern California to pursue a degree in International Relations. “I spent most of my time at school suppressing my artistic side to make room for my research internships and political science programs,” she explained. But the art courses she took toward the end of college drew her back to the creative field. Now, Lukashevsky couldn’t be happier with her choice. Intertwining both the personal and political, Lukashevsky’s art utilizes illustration and graphic design to create images that have a political message or tell a story.
Her work has been featured in GOOD magazine and Broadly, and accompanied an essay by Dr. Marcia Chatelain, the creator of the #FergusonSyllabus, in Lenny Letter. Most recently, Lukashevsky is working with Amplifier, an “art machine for social justice,” an experience she said has shown her “the impact that positive propaganda has on public discourse.” She draws inspiration in part from her life experiences, such as being a woman of color on a largely White college campus. Lukashevsky is also inspired by the activism of others. She said, “I am continuously inspired and awed by Black and Brown activists who constantly fight oppression with their bodies and minds.”
The 2016 presidential election was another major catalyst for Lukashevsky’s art. In its immediate aftermath, she spent five months on an international backpacking trip, turning her “anger, frustration, isolation, and copious amounts of free time” into political art. Lukashevsky shares her art, some of which utilizes text to emphasize a specific message, through her Instagram account, which with 5,000 followers has brought her work to a broader audience. “It makes me so happy to know that perhaps something like my ‘sisters not just cisters’ print has made a trans sister feel loved and accepted in an environment of non-intersectional feminism,” she said.
Although she sees that “art is often overlooked in terms of political impact,” Lukashevsky has challenged that oversight, arguing that it’s the responsibility of people with artistic skills—whether artists, editorial illustrators, art directors—to “make social justice a priority with the skillset that they have.” To that end, she uses her website to offer her services to any organization “working to combat racism, misogyny, and all forms of bigotry.”
“I wish I had understood at an earlier age that art and design are vital to social movements, and that there [is] a need for all ranges of the activist spectrum,” she said. Although Lukeshevsky took a detour from art for a few years in college, it doesn’t seem like she will be changing course again anytime soon. “It’s been a long path back to art,” she said, “but I could not be happier that I took the leap back into creativity.”