As evinced in her darkly suggestive gouache-on-paper paintings, Laylah Ali’s work often engages with questions of oppression, heroism, and emancipation. With undeniable wit, Ali crafts visceral narratives that evoke culturally and historically referential moments. For her Dia commission, Ali gives focus to the radical abolitionist John Brown by composing a portrait of associations to consider the contemporary impact of this complex and elusive historical figure.
This project is made possible in part by Dia’s Commissioning Committee: Jill and Peter Kraus, Leslie and Mac McQuown, Genny and Selmo Nissenbaum, and Liz Gerring Radke and Kirk August Radke. Generous support has also been provided by the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency, and with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Beverages for the launch event are compliments of Brooklyn Brewery.
Laylah Ali was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1968. She lives and works in Williamstown, Massachusetts.