WAM is pleased to present Laylah Ali: The Greenheads Series. This is the first time the Greenheads series, created between 1996 and 2005, is being shown as a comprehensive body of work. Forty-three of the exquisitely rendered gouache paintings—from a total of more than eighty—have been gathered from collections here and abroad to chronicle the series’ development.
The figures inhabiting Ali’s works—the Greenheads—are enigmatic, round-headed beings of indeterminate sex and race who inhabit a regimented, dystopian world where odd and menacing, though sometimes strangely humorous, encounters prevail.
This exhibition will allow viewers to examine the evolution of Ali’s series. While the early paintings frequently focus on physically aggressive exchanges between groups of figures, these interactions are later replaced by individuals—alone or in small groups—who witness the prelude to, or aftermath of, a charged encounter. As the series continues, more and more of the figures’ anatomy is pruned away, as if the artist is examining how much can be taken out—such as arms, feet, skin color—while still communicating thought, emotion, and social status.
This exhibition was organized by the Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts. It is co-sponsored by the University of Minnesota Department of Art.
About the Artist
Laylah Ali was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1968 and lives and works in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where she is currently a professor of art at Williams College. Ali has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis; and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art; among others. Her work was exhibited at the Venice Biennale (2003) and the Whitney Biennial (2004), and she was featured in the award-winning PBS series Art 21.