We had the good fortune of connecting with Leonor Ali and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Leonor, how do you think about risk?
I found that the more I become comfortable in art making, the more I long for something new and exciting. Taking risks comes with uncertainty and sometimes they don’t quite work out for me, but when they do, it feels like a mixture of excitement, motivation, confidence, and creativity is pumped all throughout me. Those moments are what makes painting, sculpting, or any kind of expressions through artforms so much more enjoyable to me. I think of risks as opportunities to show growth in my art. When I first started painting, I use to have this black and white way of thinking. I thought a painting, or a drawing was simply something that was beautifully rendered on a flat, rectangular surface. This past year I have been finding new ways of expressing my art in a way that feels authentically me. I think it’s a risk when you take away some outside factors and futile notions and expectations of art making. Taking away these expectations and background noise and just making until something clicks. I have found that I have more confidence in myself as an artist when I take risks.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a mixed media artist. I began painting about 10 years ago and within the past few years I have seen a different direction in my artmaking. I have leaned towards expressing myself in more ways than just using paint. This past year I focused on a body of work which had a theme of repetitive cream and red dots plastered throughout my works, These dots appeared as designs on fabric, forming as boil-like structures on beings, to creating the dots into shaped surfaces. I’m excited about these new surfaces I have been working on. I have been cutting out panels of wood in jagged oblong shapes and using materials such as wall plaster and net fabrics in my latest pieces. I think these mixtures of hard and soft materials add a fun experience in paintings that I’d like to see more often. I want the world to look at my artwork for more than 5 seconds. I want the material use to capture their attention. I want the colors to draw in questions and the subject matter to be something that makes the viewer question what they are really looking at. I think there is something interesting about looking at artwork and finding those signs of personality in the pieces and I hope people see that when they look at my work.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my bestie were in town, I’d bring her to a few places! She is a vegetarian so we would swing by the Cosmic Cafe in Dallas. We are both a sucker for some good drinks and beautiful lights, so we’d swing by the SODA Bar for some drinks and a good view of Dallas. I’d take her to some of the art galleries here in the DFW area so she can have a little taste of what Texas artists have to show. We both love to thrift, so we’d have a blast at the Texas Thrift and of course, I’d have to bring her to the Bomb Factory and catch a concert!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am so fortunate to have several people show me support and are huge motivators that have inspired me to be where I am today. Many of those include family members, friends, and other influences. My art teachers throughout my years of k-12, specifically Mrs. Robbins, and Mr. Llewellyn have showed their support and have encouraged me to pursue the arts after I graduated. Now that I am at UTA, I’ve had some amazingly talented art professors that inspire and uplift me and take a huge role in my growth as an artist. Sedrick Huckaby, Carlos Donjuan, Stephen Lapthisophon, Kendra Wiggins, Nancy Palmeri, Kacey Slone and Benjamin Terry are all amazing artists that bring something new, fun, and exciting ways of artmaking. Each one of those artists have showed me support. When I thought about pursuing a different degree outside of painting, Carlos encouraged me not to give up. When I took my first class at UTA, Kacey and Nancy greeted me with warmth and friendship. Ben inspired me to take risks and to think beyond the rectangle. Sedrick uplifted me and got me in my first gallery show. But most importantly my friends and family have showed me so much love and support. My mother was one of my biggest motivators before she passed (and still is). My partner Bruce, my father and brother, and my beautiful best friends; Nicole, Nina, Erin, and Julian have showed me constant support and are a big reason why I continue to create. I love you guys!!!!!