The New Orleans Museum of Art opens the first major museum presentation of the work of artist Alia Ali

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The New Orleans Museum of Art opens the first major museum presentation of the work of artist Alia Ali
Alia Ali, FLUX Series, Installation view at Galerie Peter Sillem, November 2 to December 14, 2019, Frankfurt, Courtesy of Galerie Peter Sillem © Alia Ali, 2019. Photo by: Alia Ali.

NEW ORLEANS, LA.- The New Orleans Museum of Art presents Alia Ali: FLUX, the first major museum presentation of the work of Yemeni-Bosnian artist Alia Ali. On view February 21 through August 2, 2020, FLUX considers how politics, economics and histories collide in fabric patterns and techniques. Focusing on wax print fabric—a form with roots in Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Javanese, Dutch and African traditions—FLUX captures the way textiles move and migrate across different cultures.

“Alia Ali’s work shows how fabric both unites and divides us, drawing attention to the way textiles reflect politics and history,” said Susan Taylor, Montine McDaniel Director of NOMA. “We are delighted to present this series in NOMA’s Great Hall, emphasizing the coming together of the many different cultures represented in NOMA’s collection.”

FLUX includes ten shifting photographic portraits that portray people who are at once concealed and highly visible, their silhouettes warped by textile patterns, their faces covered over by vibrantly colored fabrics. Surrounded by hand-upholstered frames, Ali’s portraits convey both the intimacy of fabric—a material worn close to the body—and the way its seductive colors and prints often obscure the colonial histories and global economy of which fabric is a part. Reflecting on how wax print came into existence across borders on land and water, FLUX reveals how these histories are woven into the very processes and production of the wax print. Currently based between Marrakech and Los Angeles, Ali’s work draws upon research she has conduced while living between Yemen, the United States, Morocco, Vietnam, Bosnia, and Turkey. Her portraits evoke the cultural flux resulting from today’s mass migrations and increasing geopolitical instability across the world.

“Fabrics are documents, and their motifs are a language--a place where histories, economics and creativity collide,” said Alia Ali. “The word text comes from textile, but fabrics communicate beyond the written word, telling the stories of people, communities, and even entire cultures. It is an honor to mount my first museum exhibition in New Orleans, a city with its own rich textile traditions, and the place where I first began seeing myself as an artist, and where I still produce much of my work."

Alia Ali will discuss her work in conversation with exhibition curator Katie Pfohl at NOMA on Friday, March 13, 2020.

Alia Ali is a Yemeni-Bosnian-US multi-media artist. Having traveled to sixty-seven countries, lived in and between seven, and grown up among five languages, her most comfortable mode of communication is through image and multi-sensory mediums. Ali's aesthetic interests stem from people, place, and the processes which unite and divide us, all at once. Her work reflects on the politics and poetics of contested notions surrounding the topics of identity, physical borders, universality, mental/physical spaces of confinement, and the inherent dualism that exists in everything. Her work blurs the lines between what we claim to be objective and subjective, illusion and reality, truth and interpretation. Ali lives and works in Los Angeles and Marrakech.

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