Growing up in the southern US, I quickly learned there was a certain expectation of how to “properly” be a woman: now, I challenge what that looks like, using performed femininity as a tool to reveal not only gender disparities, but also to illuminate the relentless critique and politicization of the female body. Instead of hiding or denying femme aesthetics and female sexuality, my pieces embrace, highlight, and empower them, while acknowledging all the awkwardness, humor, and theatricality they entail. My pieces are flirtatious, attention-seeking, and deceptively superficial. Toying with their own actualities and potential, they can speak— glittery and powerful—to politics in their own voice: excessive, unabashedly hyper-feminine, and most importantly, pink.
I utilize a plethora of highly saturated, candy-colored hues in my sculptural, bedazzled work. These colors are typically hot pinks, deep blues, and vibrant purples, stemming from girlhood and reminiscent of Barbie’s Dreamhouse. Glittering and playful from afar with their pom-poms and jewelry-like forms, these pieces connote more serious contemporary problems when considered up close. For example, a pair of bubblegum pink heels with a whimsical flourish of violet trailing them is actually is a lock-enshrouded chain, one which lacks keys to free the wearer of its weight. My finished pieces reflect my interest in adornment and the relentless critique and politicization of the body, heightening the power of hyper-feminine colors and materials.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Ali Hval (she/her) (b. 1993, Sacramento, CA) is an artist currently living and working in Iowa City, Iowa. Currently, Ali is a Lecturer in Painting and Drawing at the University of Iowa. She earned her MFA from the University of Iowa in Painting and Drawing with honors, and BFA in Painting from the University of Alabama with honors. Her work is interdisciplinary, combining ceramic, fabric, installation, and painting. The forms and materials she uses reflect her interest in adornment and the relentless critique and politicization of the body.
She has received grants from the Iowa Arts Council as well as the nationally competitive Windgate Fellowship by the Center of Craft, Creativity, and Design in Asheville, North Carolina. She has been published in New York Jewelry Week and was a resident at the Chautauqua School of Art. She has exhibited her work across the country, including at Ceysson y Bénétière in New York City, Site: Brooklyn in New York, and South Bay Contemporary in Los Angeles. She has had mentions in CultBytes and The New Yorker. Most recently, she was the 2022 Stuart Artist-in-Residence at South Dakota State University.
© Ali Hval