We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Mazanec and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ashley, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
The EcoArts program I co-author and teach challenges children to respond to current ecological situations with grace and intelligence. Natural beauty satisfies our senses, stokes our sense of wonder. and makes a great entry point for learning. With guidance, my students create ecological art that integrates emotions and intellect into a meaningful educational experience. 

Like adults, young people are sometimes upset when they learn about the ways that our human world is out of sync with natural systems. Art gives them a way to move through that discomfort and imagine something better. Sometimes artists reveal what is already known, and sometimes we picture a future that has accounted for our human shortcomings and rises above them. And there are classes where my students simply marvel at the natural world. In those moments, somehow all the chaos of these times is forgotten.

The social impact approach to art has benefitted my own compositions since my interest in environmental affairs was piqued in 2012. As Del Sur Elementary’s Artist in Residence, I foster environmental literacy and a creative, curious spirit in my students. Meanwhile, eco art has also become my own source of peace, accomplishment, and connection.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
According to my nannies, I started writing music for piano around 10 years old. In high school at La Costa Canyon, I decided to take singing lessons and try out for the national anthem. I was shocked to land Homecoming game. Since then, I have been a guest feature, bandmate, sculptor and independent artist. My most recent musical work is a feature for Las Vegas Lover — a cover song called Nightshift which is accompanied by a COVID-deserted Las Vegas strip skateboard video. Some of the twenty- something songs I’ve written over my 2 year break from performance will enter the recording process this September in Todos Santos, Mexico.

It was painfully difficult getting to this point where I can both work with young budding artists half of the year and maintain my own artistic pursuits. I had to establish myself as a qualified professional in a field that was essentially nonexistent. In order to stay focused on my goal, I moved in with family, and worked to make this niche field my lifestyle and identity.  I finally feel like I am able to see over the mountain I’ve been climbing.
When you are artistic, it sometimes feels like being a circle in a world of squares— something to marvel at, but not to aspire to! This is one reason I am so grateful that Del Sur Elementary maintains a fantastic art program for their students. There are young creative people just like I was that need validation, direction, and encouragement. It actually gets me choked up when I get to tell a rockstar student how impressed I am with their artwork.

Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Healthy Creations Cafe is a staple, and North Torrey Pines is my fave outdoor refuge. Encinitas boasts some major food gems like GoodOnYa Café, Q’ero, and Choice Health Bar for killer chocolate almond milk (every great day starts and ends with cacao). Eve to run into 17.5 friends and maybe get pulled into some alternative show that will make You a better person. La Paloma for movies, Sunday bike rides to Leucadia farmer’s market, and My Sister’s Closet and Encinitas 101 for great secondhand fashion. Balboa Park for arts, music and museum goings. Culture Shock Dance Company for outstanding dance classes from hip hop to island style. Bootchcraft for those that want a super local kombucha-beer experience. Downtown, you say? Vin de Syrah or Cafe 21 for live music, excellent farm to table dining, and dancing. 

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Yes! Raychel Long from Parachute Arts is the angel that turned me into a teaching artist at Del Sur Elementary, putting wings on my dream of sharing eco arts with children. She is a purpose-driven art boss and I highly recommend attending her Dream Fair dinners once COVID madness is over.

Gabe Lehner (9 Theory) got me into the recording studio on the regular when I had no idea how to get into music. He and Eric Poline (DJ OpenOptics) provided some incredible opportunities for me to sing at legendary venues and festivals, and to have my vocals featured by Eligh, Champagne Drip and even Bassnectar (the credits read Inspired Flight, the band name). Gabe is the reason my voice is on Netflix’s Tales of the City covering Madonna’s Physical Attraction in Episode One. And Jesse Nathason (Jesse Javan) placed my song Possible in stores like Hershey’s, Abercrombie Kids, and T.J. Maxx across the U.S. Thank you, Jesse!!!

If I may add a few more, ocean artist Mark MacKay also helped me on this path. I learned sculpture and wrote my first environmentally-themed song while working for him in Maui with his super awesome son Cheya encouraging me as well. Thank you, Surfing Madonna Oceans Project, for the scholarship to the Artists & Climate Change Incubator. And Garth Murphy for being my best friend and fellow circle in a world of squares.

Last but not least, my parents have saved me from falling off of many-a-cliff my whole life. Thanks, Mom and Dad. I’m still alive!

Website: ashleymazanec.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ecoartsfoundation/
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ashleymazanec/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ashleymazanec/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuIN7GED2-QAKaCQoAqEwDA