Marion art gallery exhibition to feature drawings by award-winning artist
Works by a renowned artist with Western New York roots will be featured in the next exhibition in the Cathy and Jesse Marion Art Gallery at SUNY Fredonia.
“Is anything the matter?: Drawings by Laylah Ali,” opens Tuesday, Jan. 23 in the gallery, which is located on the main level of Rockefeller Arts Center on the Fredonia campus.
Ali is the recipient of multiple honors including the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant, the William H. Johnson Prize and the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston Artist Prize. She was born in Buffalo, NY, and currently lives and works in western Massachusetts.
Ali’s work and process were highlighted in season three of the acclaimed PBS series “Art21.” She is currently the Francis Christopher Oakley Third Century Professor of Art at Williams College in Williamstown, MA.
The Fredonia exhibition presents almost three decades of drawings by Ali. It includes more than 100 drawings dating from 1993 to 2020. Among the series represented are: “Self-Portraits with Nat Turner’s Vision,” “Typology,” “Note Drawings,” “Studies,” “Commonplace Drawings” and “Harbinger.”
Though the drawings range in format, they share a continuing theme of Ali’s ongoing interest in “the amalgam of race, power, gendering, human frailty, murky politics and other complex combinations that are so often treated as separate entities.”
“I think about how narratives of freedom and self-realization are this never-to-reach destination that we drink, and are sold, and that motivate and enervate us,” Ali said of her interest in bodily politics. “Those narratives have extra weight and sometimes deadly stakes for, as many of us know, bodies of color, and queer, trans, and women’s bodies. Bodies that resist being externally named, that exist in places they are not supposed to exist, that claim space they are not supposed to claim. The tension between being a body versus a person versus an individual.”
Ali has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City; Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston; Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis; and MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA, among others. Her work has also been exhibited at the Venice Biennale, an international cultural exhibition hosted annually in Venice, Italy, and the Whitney Biennial, an annual exhibition of contemporary American art at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City that began in 1932.
Ali’s works are included in the permanent collections of numerous public institutions, including the Buffalo AKG Museum; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; the Museum of Modern Art in New York City; the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MIN; and the Seattle (WA) Art Museum.
A reception with the artist takes place in the art gallery lobby on Friday, Jan. 26 from 6 to 9 p.m. In addition, Ali will give a Visiting Artist Program lecture about her drawings at 4 p.m. on March 22 in McEwen Hall Room 209.
The reception, lecture, and exhibition are free and open to the public. A complimentary exhibition catalog is available at the gallery or by request. “Is anything the matter?” is supported by the Fredonia College Foundation’s Carnahan Jackson Fund for the Humanities and Cathy and Jesse Marion Endowment Fund, as well as Friends of Rockefeller Arts Center.
Gallery hours are Tuesday through Thursday from noon to 4 p.m., Friday and Saturday from noon to 6 p.m., Sunday from noon to 4 p.m., and by appointment. For more information about the exhibition or to schedule a group tour, contact Marion Art Gallery Director Barbara Räcker via email or call (716) 673-4897.