We had the good fortune of connecting with Asia Denise Shelton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Asia Denise, can you tell us about an impactful book you’ve read and why you liked it or what impact it had on you?
One of my favorite books to keep on hand when I’m feeling burnt out, uninspired or disillusioned is Rainer Marie Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet”. Although written to a poet, Rilke’s letters can apply to literally anyone and have been an endless source of inspiration and comfort to me over the years. The collection of 10 letters touch on Rilke’s views on loneliness, grief, joy, and beauty, but it’s his thoughts on authenticity, self doubt and criticism that continue to draw me back to the book. For example, the young man asks Rilke, “Are my poems good?” Rilke responds, “You ask whether your poems are good. You send them to publishers; you compare them with other poems; you are disturbed when certain publishers reject your attempts. Well now, since you have given me permission to advice you, I suggest that you give all that up. You are looking outward and, above all else, that you must do now. No one can advise and help you, no one […] There is only one way: Go within. Search for the cause, find the impetus that bids you write. Put it to this test: Does it stretch out its roots in the deepest place of your heart? Can you avow that you would die if you were forbidden to write?” Every now and then I think I need to be reminded of these types of things.
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.
I’m a documentary photographer and my work mostly focuses on themes of commonplace beauty, nature, and my own life and sense of self.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
All my friends know that if they come to visit me they’re going to be dragged around to all my favorite vintage stores. Some of my personal favorites are Squaresville, Bearded Beagle, Starday & Jet Rag. I also try and take everyone to the Huntington Library and Gardens because it is absolutely incredible. Period. If they’re a little on the bougie side we’d go to The Row to splurge or just window shop. A friend of mine introduced me to a boutique over there called LCD. I like to go in there and dream that I’m rich. Another place I like to take people to is Skylight Bookstore’s Art Annex in Los Feliz. I find that most people can’t leave that store without purchasing something. Hauser & Wirth in the Arts District is also a fun favorite. Their restaurant Manuela is a lovely spot to day drink amongst some Calder sculptures and they have a super chic gift shop and bookstore. Last but not least, the beach of course.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Someone who deserves a little credit and recognition to my story is one of my absolute best friends, Ellinee Rae Nelson. My friends are a huge source of support for me but Ellinee has literally been by my side during some of the most important moments within my academic and professional career. She’s been a bottomless well of love and support and there’s no one else I trust more to critique and help guide my work.