A low-residency, intensive year round program providing the conceptual, critical, historical, and practical knowledge needed to sustain a successful studio.

Visiting Artists
Laylah Ali
Artist
Williamstown Massachusetts Laylah Ali was born in Buffalo, New York in 1968, and lives and works in Williamstown, Massachusetts. She received a BA from Williams College and an MFA from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. The precision with which Ali creates her small figurative gouache paintings on paper is such that it takes her many months to complete a single work. She meticulously plots out in advance every aspect of her work, from subject matter to choice of color and the brushes that she will use. In style, her paintings resemble comic-book serials, but they also contain stylistic references to hieroglyphics and American folk-art traditions. Ali often achieves a high level of emotional tension in her work as a result of juxtaposing brightly colored scenes with dark, often violent subject matter that speaks of political resistance, social relationships, and betrayal. Although Ali’s interest in representations of socio-political issues and current events drives her work, her finished paintings rarely reveal specific references. Her most famous and longest-running series of paintings depicts the brown-skinned and gender-neutral Greenheads, while her most recent works include portraits as well as more abstract biomorphic images. Ali endows the characters and scenes in her paintings with everyday attributes like dodge balls, sneakers, and band-aids as well as historically- and culturally-loaded signs such as nooses, hoods, robes, masks, and military-style uniforms. Her drawings, to which she refers as ‘automatic’, are looser and more playful than the paintings and are often the source of material that she explores more deeply in her paintings. Laylah Ali has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; ICA, Boston; MCA Chicago; Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis; and MASS MoCA, among others. Her work was exhibited at the Venice Biennale (2003) and the Whitney Biennial (2004).