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Laylah Ali artist talk

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Laylah Ali's lecture was definitely a inspiring talk because of the way she presented that moved away from the normal format of usual artist talks. Laylah was much more interested in presenting herself as a person and involved more humor and personality than any artist talk I've ever been to. The usual persona that artists create, that distances themselves from the public is shed away in Laylah Ali's lecture. I loved how she wanted the audience to be involved in the talk, and she achieved this by allowing audience members to ask questions at any point. This jumping from topic to topic from her Greenhead series inspirations to talks about her undergraduate life and graduate school, was definitely a breath of fresh air.

I'm very use to artists talking about their work in chronological order and never straying from that format, but it was interesting to see her jumping around slides to keep her audience on their toes. In Laylah's ink drawings, I wonder what kind of discipline is required to achieve the incredible incredible amount of detail. In the Greenhead series, I can't even fathom the thought of how much time was spent creating all those pages. Adobe illustrator is not a very easy program to use, and takes time to get things to work how you like it to be. It was interesting to hear how she didn't personally use illustrator, but asked a friend to create the series instead, with the instructions from Laylah. Which is a process I've never heard an artist used before.

I also appreciated Laylah's honesty about her views of the current job market for artists. Most of the audience were undergraduates who were likely art majors, and it was an interesting subject that many of us often ponder about as we continue our education here at the University of Minnesota. I found it helpful for an artist to say that career will be a difficult path, so it would be best to have skills from other areas as well that will prepare you if it doesn't work out in the beginning.

Laylah Ali Lecture

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Of all the lectures we have had so far, I felt that Layla's was the most interesting and relevant. At first, when she started, I wasn't so sure, as I thought that the green head paintings were somewhat cartoony, which I am a big fan of, but I don't necessarily always like when people present that type of thing in a fine art context. I have althoughs thought it should be more accessible.
But as soon as Layla got started explaining her worldview, I knew that we thought along similar lines. I can very much relate to her, as I am also of the line of thinking that, to quote directly from her "the world doesn't necessarily need more drawers and painters right now". I could definitely appreciate her honesty, as I too have thought heavily about how those mediums might not be the most relevant, and when someone else in the audience asked her if she thought there was really anything left to say with painting, I was very curious to hear her thoughts about that.
When she also started speaking about how filmmaking might be a more relevant medium, I immediately related, and I would even expand that to just video making in general. I'm a really big fan of the power of the internet and how you can make something one day, and have it be seen by millions of people within a few hours. It seems so much more powerful to me than having your work hanging in a museum where so few will get to engage with it.
It was also very interesting to me to hear how Layla almost sort of fell into her fame, and how she never intended to be an artist for a living. It made me think of that whole thing with all these internet celebrities, who also never intended to reach fame, and ended up doing it almost by accident.
Contemplating her art in this context, I think the green heads are more than just fun cartoons that she painted, but rather question the way we treat certain pieces of art in different contexts.

Laylah Ali - Evelyn Kim

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I guess by so far Laylah Ali's talk was one of the most interesting talking I have ever been. I felt that she was very approachable with the audience and I love how she was trying to have the direct conversation with the audience by asking question and answering them directly. I loved her sense of humor too while she was giving the speech. One of the things that I loved about her work is how much detail and precise she put into her work. It was interesting how her work seem to be cartoon (for example the Greenhead series) like yet very humorous to me. Throughout look at her work and her talk, I could see how she has put a lot of research in painting and drawing such as using her left hand and matching the colors and using only black and white colors to fit perfectly. The video on the other hand was a little bit confusing for me. It was so hard to understand to correlate with her art and the performance video. I guess because I am lack of understanding things but if I have a chance again, I wanted to watch another video again to fully understand the connection of the work.
Overall, I felt that Laylah Ali was very amiable person and approachable person to talk to. She explained well about her journey to become an artist and her standpoints about her work. I will love to see her work more again to see more of her exhibitions that were shown in the Weisman Museum or maybe in the other museum that other place is shown. I really loved her speech.

Laylah Ali

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I enjoyed that she presented herself as a real person; explaining that she was sick and that she had given so many talks that she wanted to escape the traditional structure. She was successful at going outside of the standard lecture talk, by explaining her processes and her journey as an artist. It was interesting to get her incite of the struggles of being an artist and the barriers that University setting can create. It was wonderful to hear that she faced her professors not like her work, but she continued to produce the images of the human struggle in an illustrated way.

She did talk about her processes and the obstacles with having carpal tunnel and learning to work with her non-dominant hand. It was interesting to find out that her small, figurative, paintings on paper take her many months to complete. Her attention to detail was not something I had thought of in the past, but my only experience with her work before was with the images that were around Minneapolis in 2005. (Those images were greatly enlarged from what I remember.) After hearing about her processes and her attention to detail and having the opportunely to view her work at the Weismann; I have a better understanding of her work. The images although completed in small scale are extremely moving and graphic.

I thought it was important that she explained that it's difficult to be an artist and that may times you have other skills and roles in life when producing work. An example would be how she taught and continued to create work for herself, not thinking that anyone would ever see the work. It was great to hear someone that has achieved success explain that it's not easy and then explained that even the most talented people from her past are not working as artists. I think that unknowingly she achieved success because she continued to work on her art without the intent to show it.
-Nina Allen

Laylah Ali

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I really enjoyed Laylah Ali's talk. It seemed to be a lot more personable and laid-back than the other artist talks that have been given. She also had a sense of humor that extended into her artwork. The Greenheads have a humorous look to them. I enjoy their goofy facial expressions and the unrealistic skin colors that they have. I find the green skin color to be an important aspect to these paintings because she isn't giving them a race, but instead allowing every ethnic group to relate to these green figures. Even though these cartoon figures look silly, the activities that they are doing are no laughing matter. The scenes that they are in are very series. I feel that the way she creates these figures helps lighten the serious subject matter.
Laylah's ink drawings are also very interesting. The amount of time spent on creating the detail in the dress of the figures is evident. These patterns are so precise and excessive. That is the king of detailed work that would drive me nuts, but in her talk she talked about how she actually enjoyed it and was a nice get away from the Greenheads work. Something that she said that I found very odd was that she pretty much hated doing the painting work of the Greenheads. My thought is why do it if you don't enjoy creating it?

-Moriah Kelly

Laylah Ali

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Laylah Ali was a wonderful speaker to have brought to campus. She was so original with the way she presented her work to the audience and I found her to be one of the most inspirational artists that I have listened to before. One thing that I liked the most about her work with the Green Heads series is that she left a lot of the work up to our own interpretation and how she purposely made her paintings smaller so that you have to get up close and personal with it. I also found her to be very disciplined in her work and motivated. The way she struggled to get through some of her projects just to see what the final goal would be is something that I don't think I could do myself. I'm one of those people that has a really hard time motivating myself to do something that I don't have any interest in doing and in this aspect I found her to be incredibly inspirational. Laylah's honesty towards the end of her talk was also nice to hear, she wasn't afraid to tell people what she really thought and it was refreshing to listen to her give her honest advice to the undergraduates in the audience. I feel like throughout the lecture we really got to know Laylah's true personality and I absolutely loved that since most artists who give presentations just summarize their work without mentioning what was going on in their lives or why they were choosing to pursue the work that they were doing.

Laylah Ali

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Laylah Ali's lecture was quite interesting and innovative. I appreciated her Greenheads series, and the many ways in which it defies classification. The artwork cannot be easily classified, just as the Greenheads cannot be classified as a certain race. In this way they have become a kind of undefined symbol that can stand for anything.
Laylah's ink drawings were also quite impressive, especially the attention given to repeating tedious pattern over and over in a character's clothes. I was especially intrigued by Ali's statement that she did not enjoy many parts of painting. This brought to mind to old adage which says, "Creating art is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration." We seem to be able to idealize art quite easily, and furthermore, allow that idealization to reach people who are not artists. We perpetrate a statement that art is easy and fluid, like taking dictation from God. In reality, our art is artwork - with an emphasis on work. It takes dedication and perseverance to create art; it takes sweat and tears. If anything, this is the face we should show more often to the public. If anything, this will be far more respected than some kind of ghostly inspiration that drifts out of the æther. If we can all follow Laylah Ali's example, art can be a discipline that is far more highly thought of than it is now. It takes every bit as much work as mathematics or chemistry, except instead of working with already exists, we are drawing equations and elements from ourselves, from our innermost imaginations.

--Evan Johnson

Visiting Artists Lecture #4 - Laylah Ali

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Visiting Artists Lecture #4 - Laylah Ali

Bailey Haack
7 March 2013

I thought that Laylah Ali gave one of the most sincere and honest artist talks that I have heard. She began the talk by saying that she had recently realized that she didn't enjoy giving artist lectures anymore, and said that she thought of it as both a problem and an opportunity. This honesty in her talk delivery was very refreshing, and kept me much more interested than some artists who simply go over their work chronologically but don't show much of their own personality.

The way Laylah jumped around in her talk - from her undergraduate work, to her Greenheads collection, to her technique, etc. - kept it interesting without being too confusing, and it was nice that she incorporated more of a dialogue and allowed people to ask questions throughout her talk, instead of saving them until the end. She gave some insight into her pieces, saying that the inspiration for the Greenheads came from an interest in the body, and an interest in her own body, but that she also wanted to distance herself from the work. It was interesting how Laylah didn't seem to attached to how people perceived her work, as long as they were provoked to ask questions. One statement that stuck out to me was when she said, "There's something about me that goes into them that isn't conscious." It was almost as if the little Greenheads characters manifested themselves into her subconscious and she wasn't fully aware of them until she was in the process of actively drawing them.

Laylah's description of the meticulous work she does throughout her artistic process was also fascinating. She described her process with the Greenheads, saying that she measures and checks lines, and measures again, and mixes colors until they're absolutely perfect. Even as she was describing her process, she told us how it was driving her crazy and she didn't always even like doing it, but she kept doing it because she "wanted to see what would happen." Her little characters seem to transcend race and gender, and they are simply there on the canvas to make people question those things about our own society. I thought Laylah Ali's talk was extremely interesting and I think I got a lot out of it that I would like to apply to my future practice.

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