"You know, art can be something which can really disempower people, or it can be a vehicle which can empower people."
From "Art in the Twenty-First Century" Season 3 (2005)
Featured in this video
Working in extremely detailed paintings that take months to create, Laylah Ali combines cartoon and folkloric aesthetics to explore notions of ethnicity and social violence. “I think when people say violence, oftentimes, we think of the violent act,” says Ali. “I’m more interested in what happens before and after.” In her studio, Ali demonstrates the tricky process of working with gouache on paper and speculates that the physiological effects of color and light on the eye may have real social effects. “Could racism be just attributed to bizarre visual phenomenon? There’s a question.” Control, a theme in much of Ali’s work, also informs her own creative process. She admits, “So much of the work is about me trying to control it...and yet it still defies me.”