The Foundation helped fund the catalogue that accompanied the Laylah Ali exhibit: Notes/Drawings/Untitled Afflictions in 2008. “Ali has gained international recognition for her ability to condense complex, socio-political commentary into deceptively simple imagery. Her signature combination of jarring narratives and graphic visual style are best known through her “Greenheads” series, first featured in The 1999 DeCordova Annual Exhibition. Her jarring combination of humor and violence, in both form and content, cultivates what she describes as a “highly specific ambiguity.”
While language has always been at the heart of Ali’s investigations – in its cultural limitations and misinterpretations – she has now incorporated it into her drawings. Notes/Drawings/Untitled Afflictions marks the inaugural museum presentation of Ali’s newest body of work.
The notes are a compilation of random thoughts, overheard conversations, and snippets from newspapers, radio, and other media outlets. Ali carefully organizes these “found” texts in brief vignettes that are almost poetic in their attention to rhythm and syntax. The artist’s characteristically ambiguous characters are drawn over and under the notes. They too are cobbled together—dressed in masks, wigs, and costumes that confuse rather than clarify their sexual and racial identities.”