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In her Williamstown, Massachusetts studio, artist Laylah Ali describes how the television cartoons she watched as a child inform the way she works and thinks today.More information and credits
Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera: Joel Shapiro. Sound: Tom Bergin. Editor: Jenny Chiurco & Mary Ann Toman. Artwork Courtesy: Laylah Ali.
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Laylah Ali creates her small, figurative, gouache paintings on paper with such precision that it takes her many months to complete a single work. She meticulously plots out every aspect of her work in advance, from subject matter to choice of color and the brushes that she will use. 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.
“When I look at a Scooby-Doo cartoon, or something now, it seems really, extremely poorly drawn. But that flatness, and the way that the color played on the screen; certainly, it must be in me somehow.”