Marshall H.S.’s Ashley Goh to Pursue Passion in Visual Arts

George C. Marshall High School senior Ashley Goh was barely walking when she began expressing herself through color and design.908gohTVmelts.jpg

Of course, that was while she was living in New York, using her parents’ walls and furniture as her limitless canvas.

“I first became aware of Ashley’s talent when she became frustrated by the fact she couldn’t draw a bow. She was 18 months old,” said her mother, Lynn Goh.

Flash forward to present day and that creative niche that once had her folks painting over crayon graffiti has become the motivating factor in Goh’s decision to pursue visual arts professionally after she graduates high school.

She and her family have been living in Falls Church for 14 years, but her senior year spent at Marshall has been the most telling of her ability.

Goh recently won two gold keys for her art portfolio and computer artwork at the Regional Scholastic Art Competition. From there, she advanced to Nationals held in New York, where she took home silver keys in the same pair of categories. Goh was one of 1,000 students who were recognized this year, and more than 140,000 works of art and writing were submitted. Her computer graphics teacher at Marshall, Carol Trost, couldn’t have been more proud.

“It’s a privilege teaching Ashley. She’s exceptionally gifted and is always pushing the envelope to create a narrative with her images. It’s truly effective design,” said Trost.

Testing her boundaries must be working, since Goh has already been accepted to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, the School of Visual Arts in New York, N.Y. and the Maryland Institute of College Art (MICA) in Baltimore, Md. She said she will most likely attend VCU or MICA, but is waiting to hear back on what scholarships the Maryland school might offer.

It hasn’t always been such a smooth ride. Goh said both of her parents are still skeptical of her decision to make a life for herself in the arts, seeing it as an unpredictable career path. Ironically, her father, Henry Tae Goh, was once on the same track.

ashleygoh2.jpg“My dad especially isn’t into it, but I think it’s because I remind him of himself when he was my age,” said Goh.

Henry grew up in Korea, where he developed a skill for painting, but tough financial times paired with his relocation to the U.S. forced him to pack up his paintbrushes once and for all.

“He was pretty poor when he moved to the states, so he ended up taking night classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology to become a tailor. He thinks I’ll get cocky in the future and it will eventually sabotage my chances of staying a professional artist,” said Goh.

When asked directly about how he felt about his daughter’s decision, Henry told the News-Press he was “proud of her, but nervous about how she’ll continue her studies,” noting he’s financed many of her creative endeavors.

However, Goh said she sees herself career multitasking within 10 years time, juggling her art among other things – like publishing books, designing t-shirts and picking up freelance gigs. Both of her parents agreed they see her working for a children’s book publisher, Lynn predicting their daughter would be creating innovative books for kids of all ages.

Goh would often illustrate the stories written by her younger sister, Caroline Goh, while the two were growing up. One of Caroline’s stories even inspired a recent mixed media sculpture created by Goh called “Stevie the T.V.,” a representation of “a textbook loser teased about his large television for a head and chastised for his choice of wardrobe,” Goh wrote in an artist statement. The story goes that Stevie one day meets a young lady with a video camera for a head, with whom he falls in love. Perhaps, it’s imagination-laced results like these that cause even Goh to describe herself as “a little odd.”

“I have a lot of ideas in my head, so my art lets me vent all of that out,” said Goh, who said she mostly enjoys using trash to create art instead of having it go to waste. She’s currently working on a human-sized monster sculpture she hopes people will eventually be able to walk into.

“I came up with a story for it, where basically people throw so much away that the trash comes to life and eats them because it regrets the fact they tossed it out in the first place,” said Goh.

The fact her parents are both tailors doesn’t hurt either. Goh often uses fabric scraps for her artwork, amid other wastes like plastic bottles and cardboard. She hopes to one day master kinetic art, or moving sculpture, though she said she hasn’t quite figured out how to get the gears in motion – literally.

“I just want to do what makes me happy. Ultimately, that’s what success means to me,” said Goh.