Alena S. Heath of @burnASHburn

Her initials spell out ASH, a constant reminder for her to keep her “passion for creativity and life always burning.” With over 5,000 Instagram followers and an impressive portfolio of freelance designs and photographs, it’s safe to say burnASHburn keeps her audience drawn to her flame. IMBoston was fortunate enough to get to know the spark behind ASH, who is also one of the moderators for IGBoston, as we try to reciprocate and share her vision with the rest of the Boston community.

1. What brought you to Boston? Why did you stay here?

I came to Boston because my boyfriend is doing a post doc at MIT doing cancer research. Not only could I not turn down his noble cause, but I also have always wanted to be a sort of connoisseur of great American cities – to explore them and get to know them beyond just a quick visit. So moving here was aligned with that goal as well.

2. If you were an animal, what would you be? Why?

If I were an animal, I would be a wolf, since they can either be a part of a pack or lone. I find that I need a good balance of social interaction and solo time to unwind. Loyalty is also very important to me, and that is a well known wolf trait. Plus they are like dogs; loving but a little bit wild.


“Only boring

people get bored.”


3. Share a photo you took in Boston and tell us the story behind it.The Red Line by burnASHburn

I took this photo as I was crossing the Longfellow bridge into Cambridge this summer. I have been trying to push my photo edits for Instagram to be more than just a pretty picture and really stretch my imagination, so I thought to myself, “Why don’t I make the red line black instead?” So, that’s what I set out to do after the fact. The golden glow of the sunset on the windows of the train made for a really nice contrast to the black, which was something I hadn’t anticipated.

4. “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” This is the quote on your Instagram. Why this one?

Another quote – “Only boring people get bored” – led me to this one. “The cure for boredom is curiosity….” The phrase resonated with me right away. I researched who said it and learned that it was the author and poet Dorothy Parker, who rose to fame in the 1920’s with her witty quips. I am actually reading her biography right now. She is a fascinating woman who lived through many remarkable points in U.S. history. Many things she said or wrote put a smile on my face, but this quote in particular sticks with me because I don’t like it when people say they’re bored. I don’t understand it.

There is so much to be exploring and learning in life all around you, even in the palm of your hand now that most people carry smart phones with them. It seems lazy to be bored when you could be exploring even in the smallest sense. That exploration is fundamentally rooted in remaining curious about the world and people around you. Curiosity is what makes life worth living from my perspective, and thankfully there is no cure since the wealth of human knowledge is seemingly endless and there are so many things we as humans don’t know (and may never learn!). That may be an overwhelming thought to some, but to me it’s reassuring. There will always been an unturned stone.

5. What or who drives your passion?

My handle of burnASHburn comes from that; ASH is my initials and it serves as a constant reminder to myself to keep my passion for creativity and life always burning. So, I guess you could say it comes from within. Or perhaps from my need to explore, whether that’s ideas, places, or people. Learning, discovering and understanding (a.k.a. curiosity) is what fuels that passion I suppose – which is why that quote means what it does to me.


“Curiosity is what makes

life worth living…”


6. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us and our readers?

My work on Instagram is all shot and edited with my cell phone. This was a challenge to myself to not rely on the tool (my fancy camera or other professional equipment in this case) to dictate how creative I could be. I am a big believer in the thought that the medium doesn’t make the artist. I feel I always do my best work under some type of restriction because it requires me to be creative in how I approach a solution.

Check out more of ASH’s work on her Instagram, @burnASHburn, and check out her website!

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