Laylah Ali - CV + BIO

Laylah Ali is a visual artist whose main focus over her career has been paintings and drawings, though she has also worked in performance and online media. The precision with which Ali creates her small, figurative paintings on paper is such that it takes her many months to complete a single work. She has described her work as dealing “with the amalgam of race, power, gendering, ambition, human frailty, murky politics, and the other complex combinations that we so often treat as separate entities.” Her most recent series of acrylic and gouache paintings is “The Acephalous series.” Ali’s works are included in the permanent collections of numerous public institutions, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis among many others. Ali has been the recipient of numerous honors including the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant, United States Artists Fellowship, William H. Johnson Prize, and Institute of Contemporary Art Boston Artist Prize. Her work and process were highlighted in season 3 of the acclaimed PBS Art21 series.


Born 1968, Buffalo, New York
Lives and works in Williamstown, Massachusetts

Education
1994
MFA, Washington University in St. Louis

1993
Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture

1992
Whitney Independent Study Program, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

1991
BA, Williams College, Williamstown

Solo Exhibitions
2021
Steve Turner, Los Angeles (upcoming)

2019
Laylah Ali: Acephalous Series, Silber Art Gallery, Goucher College, Baltimore

2017
Laylah Ali: Paintings and Drawings, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Buffalo

2015
Acephalous Series, Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York

2013
Laylah Ali: The Greenheads Series, Johnson Museum, Cornell University
Laylah Ali: The Greenheads Series, Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

2012
Laylah Ali: The Greenheads Series, Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts
Note Drawings, Spencer Gallery, Endicott College, Beverly, Massachusetts
Drawings, Jaffe-Friede Gallery, Hopkins Center for the Arts, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire

2011
Laylah Ali: Note Drawings, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin

2008
Laylah Ali: Notes/Drawings/Untitled Afflictions, DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts
Laylah Ali: Drawings from the Typology Series, University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson

2007
The Kiss and Other Warriors, Institute of International Visual Arts, London
Laylah Ali: Drawings from the Typology Series, University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City
Laylah Ali: Drawings from the Typology Series, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Il bacio e altri guerrieri, Galleria Il Capricorno, Venice
Note Drawings, Miller Block Gallery, Boston

2005
Typology, Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne
303 Gallery, New York

2004
Laylah Ali: Paintings and Drawings, Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis 

2003
Laylah Ali: Paintings on Paper, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo

2002
Projects 75, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Laylah Ali: Paintings on Paper, Atlanta College of Art Gallery
Laylah Ali, Indianapolis Museum of Art

2001
ICA Artist Prize: Laylah Ali, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
Paintings from the Greenhead Series, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco
Miller Block Gallery, Boston

2000
303 Gallery, New York
Laylah Ali: Paintings on Paper, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams

1999
Small Aggressions, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

1998
Miller Block Gallery, Boston

1995
Laylah Ali, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Buffalo

Other Projects
2017
Not Self-Portraits. Exhibition of selection from Ali’s “Studies” series and an additional collaboration with 4
th and 5th graders at Martin Luther King Jr. school In NE Portland, Oregon as part of Harrell Fletcher and Lisa Jarrett’s KSMOCA (King School Museum of Contemporary Art) project.

2013
John Brown Song!  Dia Art Foundation, New York. Artists’ Web Series.
http://awp.diaart.org/ali/launch.html

2012
Voluntaries, Museum of Modern Art, New York, part of the “Some sweet day” series (Collaborative performance with Dean Moss)

2006
figures on a field, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams (Collaborative performance with Dean Moss)

2005
figures on a field, The Kitchen, New York (Premiere of collaborative performance with Dean Moss)

2004
Walker without Walls, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota (Outdoor billboard project)

Artist Books, Prints and Limited Edition Publications
2019
Four letterpress prints from “Self-Portraits with Nat Turner’s Vision” series, published at Pellinore Press (Baltimore) in collaboration with Goucher College

2018
“Comfort with Rage” silkscreen print commissioned by Printed Matter for Printed NY Art Book fair, produced with Kayrock Screenprinting, Brooklyn

2017
Sixteen Drawings, Buffalo, New York: Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center

2007
Notes with Little Illustration, London, England: Institute of International Visual Arts (Iniva)

2004
Types, St. Louis, Missouri: Contemporary Art Museum

2002
Untitled, New York: The Museum of Modern Art (Published on the occasion of Projects 75)

Group Exhibitions
2020
The Armory Show (with Steve Turner), New York
After Spiritualism: Loss and Transcendence in Contemporary Art, Fitchburg Art Museum, Massachusetts
Laylah Ali and Kenny Rivero: Two Truths, Esther Massry Gallery, The College of Saint Rose, Albany

2019
Juxtapoz at 25: In Black & White, The Hotel of South Beach
Intersecting Identities, Sheldon Museum of Art, University of
Nebraska-Lincoln
Men of Steel, Women of Wonder, San Antonio Museum of ArtMen of Steel, Women of Wonder, Crustal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas
Permutations, Silber Art Gallery, Goucher College, Baltimore
!qUiRk, Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, New York

2018
Untitled, Miami Beach (with Steve Turner)
Body / Parts, The Mattatuck Museum Arts & History Center, Waterbury, Connecticut
Code Art Fair (with Steve Turner), Copenhagen
Through-Line: Drawing and Weaving by 19 Artists, Steve Turner, Los Angeles
BioPix, Steve Turner, Los Angeles

2016
Black Pulp! International Print Center New York
Radio Imagination: Artists in the Archive of Octavia E. Butler, Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena
Overgrowth, DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, Massachusetts 

2015
WALLS Evolves: Expanding a Living Collection, Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts
ASSISTED, Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago
Come as You Are: Art of the 1990s, Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey
University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor
Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin

2014
Personal Histories, Seattle Art Museum
Up Every Evening, Season gallery, Seattle

2013
The Shadows Took Shape, The Studio Museum in Harlem
Ambiguous Histories: Selected Art from the Exit Art Portfolios, Art, Design, and Architecture Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara
Laylah Ali & Gerald Cyrus, Pennsylvania College of Art and Design Gallery, Lancaster
Direct Democracy, Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne
Revelations: Examining Democracy, Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, East Lansing
Painting Between the Lines, Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts

2012
Thenceforward, and Forever Free, Haggerty Museum of Art, Marquette University, Milwaukee
Under the Influence: The Comics, Lehman College Art Gallery, Bronx
The Female Gaze: Women Artists Making Their World, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia

2011
The Air We Breathe, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Painting Between the Lines, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco
Relatos extraordinarios: Laylah Ali and Abigail Lazkoz, Sala Parpallo, Valencia, Spain
Vivid: Female Currents in Painting, Schroeder Romero & Shredder, New York

2010
Collected: Reflections on the Permanent Collection, The Studio Museum in Harlem
Works on Paper from the MCA Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

2009
Trail Blazers in the 21st Century: Contemporary Prints and Photographs Published by Exit Art, Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, New Jersey
Off the Beaten Path: Violence, Women and Art, Art Works for Change, Stenersenmuseet, Oslo

2008
Contemporary Prints and Drawings, Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University
Beyond Drawing: Constructed Realities, Ohio University Art Gallery
Athens Fantastical Imaginings, Delaware Center of Contemporary Arts, Wilmington
Perverted by Theater, apexart, New York
Political Circus, Ritter Art Gallery, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton
On the Margins, Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis
Disguised, Rotwand Gallery, Zurich
Out of Shape, The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York
Taking Possession, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Pandora’s Box, Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
U-turn Quadrennial for Contemporary Art, Copenhagen

2007
XXS, Sommer Contemporary Art Gallery, Tel Aviv
Running Around the Pool, Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts, Tallahassee
New Acquisitions/New Perspectives, Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts
Counterparts: Contemporary Painters and Their Influences, Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art
Cult Fiction: Art and Comics, Hayward Gallery, London

2006
Alien Nation, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
Black Alphabet, Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw
American Matrix, Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida, Gainesville
Having New Eyes, Aspen Art Museum

2005
The Body. The Ruin, Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne
Cut, Susanne Vielmetter, Los Angeles
Vivi-Seccion: Dibujo Contemporaneo, Museo de Arte Carillo Gil, Mexico City

2004
Whitney Biennial 2004, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Material Witness, Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland
The 10 Commandments, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin
True Stories, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kansas

2003
Crosscurrents at Century’s End: Selections from the Neuberger Berman Art Collection, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle
Fault Lines: Contemporary African Art and Shifting Landscapes, Venice Biennale
me & more, Kunstmuseum Luzern, Switzerland
Splat Boom Pow! The Influence of Cartoons in Contemporary Art, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston

2002
Comic Release: Negotiating Identity for a New Generation, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh
Fantasyland, D’Amelio Terras, New York
First Person Singular, Seattle Art Museum
Painting in Boston, DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts 

2001
Against the Wall: Painting Against the Grid, Surface, Frame, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania
Freestyle, The Studio Museum in Harlem
FRESH: The Altoids Curiously Strong Collection 1998-2000, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York
Guarene Arte 2001, Palazzo Re Rebaudengo, Turin, Italy
A Work in Progress: Selections from the New Museum Collection, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York

2000
Art on Paper 2000, Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina, Greensboro

1999
Bizarro World! The Parallel Universes of Comics and Fine Art, Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida
Collectors Collect Contemporary, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
The 1999 DeCordova Annual Exhibition, DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts
No Place Rather than Here, 303 Gallery, New York

1998
Paradise 8, Exit Art, New York
Posing, Boston Center for the Arts
Selections Summer 1998, The Drawing Center, New York
Telling Tales, Atrium Gallery, University of Connecticut, Storrs

Grants, Residencies and Awards
2019
Tamarind Institute, Albuquerque (printmaking collaboration/residency)

2018
Red Ridge Editions, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville (printmaking/collaboration/residency)
Joan Mitchell Foundation residency, New Orleans

2017
Sam Fox School Deans Medal, Washington University in St. Louis

2015
Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, New York (residency) 

2012
Dartmouth College, Artist in Residence, Hanover, New Hampshire 

2008
Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant 

2007
United States Artists Fellowship 

2002
William H. Johnson Prize

2001
Premio Regione Piemonte (Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Per L’Arte, Turin, Italy) 

2000
ICA Artist Prize (Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston)
Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, California (residency)

1999
Gertrude Street International Residency, Melbourne

1997
Millay Colony, Austerlitz, New York (residency)
Ucross Foundation, Sheridan, Wyoming (residency)

1996
Montalvo Arts Center, Saratoga, California (residency)

Bibliography
2020
Jaeger, William. “A pair of artists linked at Massry Gallery,” Times Union, February 5

2019
Boone-McCreesh, Amy. “Layla Ali – Exhibition Visit,” INERTIA, March 8
“Laylah Ali at Silber Art Gallery, Baltimore,” ARTnews, February 25
McQuaid, Cate. “At the BCA’s Mills Gallery, cracking some codes,” Boston Globe, January 2

2018
Hill, Anna. ““To Actively Resist Despair”: An Interview with Laylah Ali,” Conversation X, April 10

2017
Kim, Hyunjee Nicole. “Radio Imagination: Artists in the Archive of Octavia E. Butler,” Daily Serving, January 4

2016
Mizota, Sharon. “What to see in L.A. galleries: An ode to a black sci-fi trailblazer and Lari Pittman ‘Mood Books,” Los Angeles Times, October 21
Baker, Sarah. “Laylah Ali,” Art New England, July
Farr, Kristin. “Laylah Ali: Bodies in Notion,” Juxtapoz, February 22

2015
Lesser, Casey. “In Laylah Ali’s New Paintings, Headless Figures Speak Volumes,” Artsy, April 20
Munro, Cait. “Artnet Asks: Laylah Ali,” artnet, April 19
“Alexandra Smith on Laylah Ali,” Painters on Paintings, April 13
Young, Stephanie. “Laylah Ali Continues to Comment on Society with her Stick Figures,” Beautiful/Decay, April 13
Halle, Howard. “Laylah Ali, The Acephalous Series,” Time Out New York, April 9
“Laylah Ali,” Time Out New York, April 2

2014
Lewis, George. “The Shadows Took Shape,” Artforum, Summer issue

2013
“Goings On About Town,” New Yorker, December 2
Pini, Gary. “Laylah Ali: The Past, Present, and Future, via Saturday Morning Cartoons,” Paper Magazine, November
Whitman, Arthur. “Queen of Limbs: Ali’s Greenheads at Cornell’s Johnson Museum,” Ithaca Times, October 17
Salinas, Madeline. “Laylah Ali’s Greenheads Turn Heads at the Johnson,” The Cornell Daily Sun, October
Nesterak, Max. “John Brown Song! An Interview with Laylah Ali,” Artslant, October
Kabat, Jennifer. “Articulating the unspeakable: Art-making during wartime,” salon.com, August 18
Gat, Orin. “What Could the Internet Be? Dia’s Online Projects,” Rhizome, August 13
McQuaid, Cate. “Literary figures, but not by the book,” Boston Sunday Globe, March 3

2012
Lubin-Levy, Joshua. “Some Sweet Day at MoMA,” Performa Magazine, November 20
Howard, Christopher. “Critics’ picks: Laylah Ali,” Artforum, October 31
Kourlas, Gia. “Paintings on the Walls, and Dancing on the Floor,” The New York Times, October 26
Adamian, John. “The Discomfort Zone,” The Times Union, September 9
Bonenti, Charles. “Green Heads Reunited,” The Berkshire Eagle, August 17
Smee, Sebastian. “Critics’ picks: the Berkshires,” The Boston Globe, June 23
Smee, Sebastian. “Laylah Ali’s show both confounds and mesmerizes,” The Boston Globe, February 19
“Laylah Ali’s Greenheads Are More Than They Seem,” HuffPost, January 16

2011
Waxman, Lori. “Art that beats for a cause,” Chicago Tribune, February 4
Smith, Roberta. “Art in Review: Vivid and Pavers,” The New York Times, January 20

2010
Gosse, Johanna. “Art on the Front Lines: Contemporary Artists and Politics,” Radical History Review

2009
Gaskell, Ivan. “Laylah Ali,” ArtUS
Francis, Jacqueline. “To Be Real: Figuring Blackness in Modern and Contemporary African Diaspora Visual Culture,” Radical History Review

2008
McQuaid, Cate. “Scratching the surface: Artist Laylah Ali explores the social dynamics that lie beyond appearances,” The Boston Globe, August 29
Smee, Sebastian. “Creative dissonance is the point of Ali’s exhibit at the DeCordova,” The Boston Globe, August 29
Heartney, Eleanor. “Talking Politics 2008,” Art in America, July
Isaac, Allan. “Here Comes the Kiss,” Massachusetts Review, Spring/Summer
Lee, Jessica. “Laylah Ali,” New American Paintings, February
Savaris, Marta. “Laylah Ali,” Flash Art Europe, January
Tawadros, Gilane. “The Revolution Stripped Bare,” Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art,
Duke University Press

2007
“Findings,” Harper’s Magazine, July
Gladstone, Mary. Dirtypop, Summer
Fallon, Roberta. “Pretty in Ink: Laylah Ali’s Deformed Drawings are Full of Drama,” Philadelphia Weekly, April 4
Newhall, Edie. “Strictly Scientific,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 9
Martin, Herbert. Time Out London, January 26

2006
Feeney, Mark. “ICA Selects the First 11 Works for its Permanent Collection,” The Boston Globe, March 10

2005
Bryant, Tisa. “Laylah Ali,” The Believer, December 2005/January 2006
Pappalardo, Bethany Anne. Artforum
Zimmer, Elizabeth. “Dean Moss and Laylah Ali,” The Village Voice, May 10
Rockwell, John. “Basketballs, Museum Galleries and Meaning,” The New York Times, May 9
Shaw, Helen. “Outstanding in Their Field,” The New York Sun, May 9
Valdez, Sarah. Art in America, May
Richard, Frances. “Laylah Ali,” Artforum, April
“Findings,” Harper’s Magazine, April
“Goings on About Town,” The New Yorker, February 14
Sholis, Brian. “Grand Opening,” Artforum, January 19

2004
Bonetti, David. “Yoshitomo Nara, Laylah Ali, and Danny Yahav-Brown,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 5
“Electoral Collage,” Artforum, September
Green, Jesse. “Can Disney Build a Better Mickey Mouse?” The New York Times, April 18
di Renato, Diez. “Alla Biennale del Whitney Torna la Pittura,” Arte, April
Schjeldahl, Peter. “What’s New,” The New Yorker, March 22
Kimmelman, Michael. “Touching All Bases At the Biennial,” The New York Times, March 12
Ramonet, Ignacio. “Nachahmungstater,” Le Monde Diplomatique, March 12
Weyland, Jocko. “American Splendor,” Time Out New York, March 4
Tranberg, Dan. “Six Bold Artists Take Sensual Approach to Serious Matters,” The Plain Dealer, February 8

2003
Colpitt, Frances. “Learning from Comics,” Art in America, October
“Project Room: Laylah Ali,” tema celeste, July/August
Gaasch, Cynnie. “Shouts and Whispers,” Artvoice, January 23
Huntington, Richard. “Society in Pain,” Buffalo Evening News, January 17

2002
Yee, Lydia. “Brown Skin, Green Heads,” Art on Paper, December
Berry, S. L. “Artist Chooses Simplicity to Put Across Complexity,” Indianapolis Star, November 22
Thibodeaux, Julianna. “Race Towards Understanding,” Nuvo Newsweekly, November 13
Byrd, Catherine. “Is There a ‘Post-Black’ Art?” Art Papers, November
Felty, Heather. “Focus Painting: Part II,” Flash Art, November
Fox, Catherine. “A Colorful, Unsettling World,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 25
Murray, Derek C. “Arrested Development,” Oneworld, July
Honigman, Ana Finel. “Fantasyland,” TimeOut New York, June 20
Kimmelman, Michael. “Fantasyland,” The New York Times, June 14
Princenthal, Nancy. “Artist’s Book Beat,” Art on Paper
Smith, Joel. “Hanna Barbarity,” Afterall

2001
Cotter, Holland. “Beyond Multiculturalism, Freedom?” The New York Times, July 29
Schjeldahl, Peter. “Breaking Away,” The New Yorker, June 11
Brockington, Horace. “Freestyle: Studio Museum in Harlem,” NYArts, June
Ferguson, Stuart. “Laylah Ali: ICA Boston,” The Wall Street Journal, May 29
Nelson, Alondra. “Aliens Who Are of Course Ourselves,” Art Journal
Saltz, Jerry. “Radical Intelligence at The Studio Museum,” The Village Voice, May 22
Cotter, Holland. “A Full Studio Museum Show Starts With 28 Young Artists and a Shoehorn,” The New York Times, May 11

2000
Felty, Heather. Flash Art International, October
Israel, Nico. “Laylah Ali,” Artforum, October
“Laylah Ali,” Harper’s Magazine, October
Morgan, Margaret. “Laylah Ali,” art/text, November
Cotter, Holland. “Laylah Ali,” The New York Times, June 30
Sirmans, Franklin. “Laylah Ali,” Time Out New York, June 29

1999
Artner, Alan G. Chicago Tribune, September 2
“The 1999 DeCordova Annual Exhibition,” The New York Times, August 20
Lloyd, Ann Wilson. “Not-So-Comic Strips That Act Out Big Social Issues,” The New York Times, August 8

1998
Lloyd, Ann Wilson. Art in America, October

1995
Huntington, Richard. “Conjuring Up the Fears of Childhood,” Buffalo News, September 28