Ali Hval: Golden Girls

February 1-24, 2024

Opening Reception on Friday, February 2nd; 5p-8p

Artist Talk on Thursday, February 8th; 6p

All artworks are for sale in person or online. See the online gallery to purchase through the Bells Gallery website.

Golden Girls is a collection of works by artist Ali Hval on view at Bells Gallery from February 1-24, 2024.

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 work is a balancing act between sensual forms and playful materials. By augmenting erotic, sensual armatures with glistening rhinestones, feathery pom-poms, and candy-colored fabrics, I assign new meanings and connotations to the forms. Using primarily ceramics and fabric, I create sculptures that evoke pieces of oversized jewelry, shoes, and other fashion and domestic items. I begin a piece by sculpting a high-fired ceramic component, painting it, and carefully studying the surface one by one with tiny rhinestones. From here, I will add textile elements as well as beauty supplies materials like hair scrunchies and nail polish.

The resulting 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.

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 her 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. She was the 2022 Stuart Artist-in-Residence at South Dakota State University and the winner of the Arts To Hearts 2023 Emerging Woman Artist Award.