The Idle Class Quarantine Creative series features local creators and their spread of good fortune and creativity in a time of quarantine. What exactly are these artists doing to lift the spirits of our community while practicing social distancing? We’re here to find out. Next in the series: local photographer Ashley Murphy.

Ashley Murphy and her husband, Mac, are owners of the art gallery and custom framing shop, M2, in Little Rock. Offering the widest range of custom framing in the state, M2 also prides itself on obtaining a wide range of artists from around the country within its walls for the past 13 years.

Ashley has been a professional photographer for eight years, specializing in editorial photography. Her works can be found on her Instagram @ashleymurphyimages or at her website,

As artists find ways to be creative during a time of social distancing, Murphy told The Idle Class what she is doing to spread light and art in a time of seeming darkness.  

What have you been doing creatively during the “self distancing” period?

As a photographer, I have been offering discounted outdoor one-on-one social distancing sessions. As more and more of us are wearing masks/face coverings, I decided to launch a new series, The Masked Project. 

As a photographer, I have always been fascinated with the eyes. With more and more people covering their faces, I see this as an opportunity to focus on the eyes and on each individual person. This is not a series promoting whether or not these are safe coverings. This is not a series promoting going out in public. Using my 200mm lens, I am traveling to individual homes. I text when I arrive and we meet at a very safe distance outside for a brief time. Things I have learned so far:

  • The photographs are just part of this project. Talking, even briefly, with the subjects gives me insight to what other people are thinking and doing during this time.
  • People hunger for creativity and still want to express themselves during this time, even if it is just for a moment.
  • Kids are still just kids. The weight of what is going on in the world is nothing compared to the innocence of genuine excitement from children seeing someone new after weeks of quarantine. And the parents I’ve encountered have done an amazing job of teaching their children to maintain a safe distance while still laughing and having fun.
  • We truly are all in this together. The uncertainty, the struggles, the adjustments to this “new normal,” the fears and the hope. For many of my subjects, they have said this was exciting. A simple 2-5 minute photo outside their home is something much more. It is a way to be a part of something bigger. A way to show the world who we are. This is not about a virus. This is about us. I thank each and every person who participates for being a part of this. 

Aside from this project, I’m also owner of M2 Gallery in Little Rock. We are actively reaching out to clients and the public to still promote the artists we represent and the custom framing services we offer. We have been closed to the public for over two weeks and are open only by appointment in one-on-one situations. We are also doing a lot of delivery/pickup for clients.

Why are you doing it?

Partially to document this time in our history through photographs, partially to gain an understanding of different points of view and partially to feed my creativity while juggling the challenges of this new way of life.

Why is staying active in your art and finding new ways to express it important at a time like this?

In a very abnormal time, this provides me a balance and some sense of normalcy. It keeps my mind active and excites me. It’s something that initially started as a few photos that has quickly developed into a mission to make it to as many people as possible in a safe fashion.