Nov 22, 2021 - Things to Do
Ozark TikToker makes art of mundane
Screenshot of Tiktoks by @pineacre.
Screenshot of TikToks by @pineacre. Courtesy: Ashlyn Gulbranson

Ashlyn Gulbranson sees beauty in the simple, even mundane, spaces surrounding her daily life in the Ozarks.

  • Her TikTok feed is filled with vignettes of small town life, from the produce aisle of a grocery store to a bowling alley seemingly frozen in the 1970s.

The big picture: Social media platforms like TikTok are filled with talking dogs and dads doing line dances, but they're also a relatively new medium for artists like Gulbranson. The digital world has changed how we experience value, and even define, art.

  • A self-portrait of famed Frida Kahlo sold last week for $34.9 million, for example, while in March a digital non-fungible token sold for $69 million.

Something must resonate with viewers. Nearly 38,000 people follow Gulbranson's work and CNN has featured her.

Details: Gulbranson started using TikTok earlier this year, initially posting videos of her young daughter. Sometime in April, she began to focus on the über ordinary.

  • Her background in art history and graphic design naturally came into play as she began to explore her world through TikTok.
  • The videos are strongly reminiscent of photographer William Eggleston, who Gulbranson says is an influence along with Edward Hopper and Stephen Shore.

The intrigue: She tells Axios her videos are a creative expression but also an effort to document the peculiar visuals in her surroundings.

  • Several times, she's been contacted after a video went live to be told the location had been demolished.

What she’s saying: While she's happy about the number of people who appreciate her videos, Gulbranson says they're not the point. She would still make the videos if there were no followers, she says.

  • "What I'm doing is showing beauty in our area," she says. "I don't know what I'm doing a lot of the time, but it is from the heart."

What we're watching: Always on the lookout for interesting visuals, Gulbranson has about 200 locations bookmarked she hopes to visit over time.

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