Laylah Ali: Not Self-Portraits

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Laylah Ali: Not Self-Portraits

May - November 2017

Not Self-Portraits is a collaborative exhibition featuring work by artist Laylah Ali and students from Mrs. McCarthy’s 4th grade and Ms. Johnson 5th grade classes who participated in workshops with the artist. Ali’s paintings explore relationships between race, gender, and social status influenced by personal experiences. Prior to the workshops, each student posed for photographic portraits expressing contrasting emotions. In the workshops, they selected a photograph of a classmate to draw. The drawings and photographs are displayed along with Laylah Ali’s work in the KSMoCA hallway.

Laylah Ali was born in Buffalo, New York in 1968 and lives and works in Williamstown, Massachusetts. 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. Her most famous and longest-running series of paintings depict brown-skinned and gender-neutral Greenheads and have been included in the Venice Biennale (2003), and the Whitney Biennial (2004) and were the subject of a major touring exhibition in 2012-2013 that originated at the Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MA and traveled to the Weisman Museum, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Ali’s works are included in the permanent collections of numerous public institutions, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, IL; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, among many others.

Photos courtesy Anke Schuettler