Exploring the Borderland

The Dana Hall community welcomed BORDERLAND Artist Alia Ali to our community for her Artist in Residence project last week. Her official gallery opening was in early February with a meet and greet and cake, pizza and drinks being served outside. There was an impressively big crowd talking to her and looking at her work.

As a child of two linguists, Ms. Ali told us that languages inspire her because they unite people but also alienate them. She told us that languages “end up blocking entire histories, stories, [and] truths” and by having parents who only shared English, she was able to see “how mistranslation and misinterpretation happened.” The idea of misinterpretation sparked her idea of using art as a universal language.

Ali’s show is incredible. Upon walking in, one sees that a clear contrast has been established in the space, with half painted black while the other half is white. She has created the gallery to look like this to show the contrast between light and dark, symbolizing war and peace. She told us that she believes “One cannot really appreciate light unless they appreciate darkness.”  Together we discussed if peace is obtainable without the concept of war and how “borders set harsh divides,” leading us to understand the name behind the gallery show, BORDERLAND.

Shifts in Ms. Ali’s thought process are in sync with the countries she has visited and will visit. We had the opportunity to talk to her in detail about her adventures in India. She traveled alone as a woman and was able to feel safe by exploring during the day. She remarked that “India [is] one of those amazing places where you see death and then turn around and see incredible festive events.” This is only one of the many places that has inspired her work.

If you are interested in learning more about her journey, visit the gallery, read a pamphlet and check out her website!  ( )

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