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  • Writer's pictureCARAVAN Arts

Alia Ali: Creativity in a Time of Crisis

© Alia Ali, 2020

During this time where we are taking care of each other, it becomes even more revealing of who is not taking care of us. This is particularly clear in the United States. While COVID-19 has introduced catastrophic outcomes - it has also done something significant. It has revealed the structural flaws of economic, political, social, healthcare and educational systems. Problems and challenges which, as artists and citizens, we must not only observe, but react to. It has deeply shaken my trust in the larger systems that we rely on so significantly, and has enforced my trust in my community. And when I say community, I mean the community that supports me across the globe. These individuals include family, friends, artists, writers, curators, roommates, studio mates, mentors, healthcare workers, neighbors… all of whom have reached out to not ask “how are you being productive,” but rather “how are you taking care of yourself and how can we take care of each other.” While our systems have fallen apart, our dedication and commitment to each other has strengthened. What better way to be inspired than by those who feed and nurture you with love, care and time.

I continue to work on my textiles, but rather than finding fabrics in the world, I am, for the first time, making them. The healing meditation of repeating to print the word حب, meaning “love” in Arabic. The healing and meditative quality of repeating a pattern that changes each time, bringing to mind the endless ways in which such a simple phenomenon can make such radically imagined changes.

© Alia Ali, 2020

I’d like to dedicate this textile and contribution to all of those who have dedicated their time, love, finances, voice to support their communities. And while we are in this position sharing love, we must consider that this is, in fact, the beginning of something radical, and something brave.


Alia Ali is a Yemeni-Bosnian-US multi-media artist who lives and works in Los Angeles and Marrakech. Her 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. Her work has been featured in publications including the Financial Times, Le Monde, Elle, Vogue, Hyperallergic, Adobe Create and Harper's Bazaar Arabia. Alia has won numerous awards including Chromatic Art Award as Photographer of the Year 2020, the Allan Sekula Social Documentary Grant, the LensCulture Emerging Artists Award, the Magenta Foundation's Emerging Talent Award, and Gold in the Fine Art Category of the Tokyo International Foto Awards. She has exhibited internationally and has most recently shown at Galerie Peter Sillem in Frankfurt, Galerie Siniya 28 in Marrakech, Gulf Photo Plus in Dubai, PhotoLondon 2019 in the UK, 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in Morocco, the Lianzhou Photo Festival in China, the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam in the Netherlands, and the Katzen Museum of Art in Washington DC. Alia has presented lectures and workshops at the College Arts Association, Harvard University, LACMA, the Middle East Institute, the Arab American National Museum and the Fowler Museum at UCLA. In 2020-21, Alia will be exhibiting at the New Orleans Museum of Art, Benton Museum of Art, the CAFKA Biennial, PhotoLondon and Art Dubai.



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