Ashley Cecil

Spring is the perfect time to get to know Louisville, Kentucky native and self-described painting-activist Ashley Cecil, who is deeply passionate about tackling environmental impact issues. Based in Highland Park, Ashley specializes in flora and fauna that illustrate the interconnectedness of the natural world and its inhabitants. As an artist-in-residence at Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Ashley translated science into tangible works of fine art, educational programs and exhibit enhancements. Catch up with Ashley as she launches several new avian art adventuresfrom her Homewood studio to the wilderness of Ligonier.

Monday, April 3

It’s “buenos días!” to my toddler’s teachers at La Escuelita where my son will spend the day playing and learning immersed in Spanish.

Then, I’m off to Unstuck at The Shop in Homewood where I get my gears turning with fellow entrepreneurs each Monday.

I’ll then cross the hall my studio to customize a wallpaper design I created during my residency at Carnegie Museum of Natural History (CMNH). The toile pattern of nursing mammals is being installed in the museum’s award-winning breastfeeding area for Mother’s Day.

Later, my husband, son and I will grab dinner at Conflict Kitchen and have a picnic beside dippy the dinosaur.

Then, it’s off to the main Carnegie Library for a nightcap of storytime fun before heading home to Highland Park.

Ashley Cecil
Ashley Cecil working in her studio in The Shop in Homewood. Photo by Julia Reynolds.

Tuesday, April 4

While others are chugging coffee, I’ll be drinking up my daily WESA on my way down to the Pitt C4C Workshop Open House (part of Inclusive Innovation Week) at the Center for Creativity at Pitt. I’m pretty jazzed about finally trying a 3D pen.

From campus, I’ll head to the Homewood Children’s Village to talk with staff about possible art and science programming for Homewood youth.

Then it’s straight to The Fire Side Public House where I’ll catch up with two fellow painters, Mia Tarducci and Brenda Stumpf.

Great food and conversation will leave me just enough time to sneak in a little work on some upcoming bridal bouquet commissions before I head to the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse to pick up supplies for a backyard garden art project with my little guy. We’ll also put down the stored up compost we have accrued as part of Shadyside Worms‘ bucket exchange.

Wednesday, April 5

At TechShop, I’ll be working on the awards I was commissioned to make for the upcoming CREATE Festival and putting the final touches on a bike rack prototype for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust that’s being fabricated by the Trade Institute of Pittsburgh.

Next, I’ll meet with talented interior designers at Weisshouse to talk about what their customers are looking for in the way of textiles for the home, and original artwork.

In the afternoon, I’ll put some serious preparation into vending at the Museum Store Association Expo coming to Pittsburgh later this month. Thanks to Monmade, fellow makers at Pittsburgh Glass Center, Nisha Blackwell of Knotzland, and I will be showcasing our wares to interested museum stores around the country.

I’ll recharge with my son at Gardening Thyme: Oh Say Can You Seed? at the Squirrel Hill Carnegie Library and finish the evening at the AAP Group Show at The FrameHouse/Jask Gallery.

Ashley Cecil
Ashley creating paintings of nursing mammals and the corresponding wallpaper pattern. Left photo courtesy Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Thursday, April 6

Big day! The Shop (where my studio is) is hosting Leslie Miley of who is flying in to share lessons and best practices to create inclusive cultures of innovation. As a parent, I am especially proud of this event, since we are able to provide free food and free childcare.

I’ll sneak out early to the Art of Scaling Your Handmade Business event at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, which also offers childcare by Whetstone.

Friday, April 7

It’s back to Everyday Cafe to meet with Nina Barbuto of Assemble to chat about their upcoming art and technology artist residency program.

Well caffeinated and fed, I’ll drive to Powdermill Nature Reserve in Ligonier for the first day of the North American Birds and Buildings Symposium. This is the perfect event to meet folks working nationally on products and policies that mitigate bird window collisions, an issue I became bananas about during my residency at CMNH.

That night, I’ll make a visit to my friend and fellow illustrator John Ritter who has given up the city life to enjoy all the countryside has to offer.

Saturday, April 8

Apropos of the weekend, I’ll wake up to the sound of songbirds on my Dawn Chorus app, which was I fortunate to play a small part in illustrating. Before the crack of dawn, I’ll head back to the symposium for bird banding and to watch birds safely test the effects of window coverings that prevent collisions.

In the afternoon, I’ll be presenting on my own designs for bird-safe window films.

I’ll swing back into the city just in time to catch “The World Made Itself & Myth and Infrastructure” at CMNH’s Hall of Mammals. I’m loving everything from this Nexus series, “Strange Times: Earth in the Age of Humans.”

Ashley Cecil
A prototype of a bird-safe window film printed with Ashley’s design. Left photo by Elizabeth Craig Photography.

Sunday, April 9

If it’s up to my toddler, we’ll be at Whitfield for breakfast by 8 a.m. We’ll get in some play outside before making our first visit to City of Asylum’s new book store.

During my kiddo’s nap, I’ll record my thoughts on Innovation Week at the #WeInnovatePgh community journal by emailing

See who else is NEXT Up here.

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Jennifer BaronEvents & Jobs Editor

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.