Q + A with Artist Ali Waller

Photo by Keren Treviño

Fueled by her journey of healing, artist, Ali Waller focuses on creating intricately, beautiful installations. “I will not net him win in death” is Waller’s most recent project featured at the Harrison Center in Indianapolis. PATTERN had the amazing opportunity to sit down and learn more about Ali Waller and her art practice.

Isabella Daugherty: Let’s start with your art background?

Ali Waller: I have been an artist for my whole life, but professionally for five years.  I’ve been an installation artist full time for the past year doing this installation which is the one that happened in Indianapolis based on the Epstein cases. I started casting in March of 2020, different survivors of sexual assault and I don’t really have an end in sight.

ID: Tell me about the installation you just mentioned, “I will not let him win in death”?

AW: I have been doing installations on sexual trauma for the entirety of my career. I did this one after finishing two years of trauma therapy for myself and at the same time the “Filthy Rich” documentary came out. I was an art handler in West Palm where all of the survivors who came forward live. So it just felt very real and it really affected me mentally. It’s a really hard documentary to watch. And so I decided to, rather than, feeding into the negative energy that I felt watching it, that I would invite people who I knew felt the same way to take part in this project. 

ID: What do you hope people can take away from this project?

AW: I really just wanted to reach survivors. I’ve almost casted 850 people. That’s only one me reaching all of these people, but it’s just knowing that you’re not alone. You have support, you have a community that believes you. Through all of the exhibitions, whether they were in different states or different sizes it kind of evolved into encouragement for wherever you are in your processing of trauma. Whether you’re angry, you’ve made your peace, or you can’t sleep at night, or you sleep just fine. It’s showing survivors that they’re not alone. 

ID: How have your travels impacted you as a person as well as an artist? 

AW:  It is challenging especially when you don’t know the community and there is a learning curve. It all started when I graduated high school and I moved to Scotland. From there I moved to South Florida where I was an art handler. Traveling is so different because you get a little window into the culture surrounding sexuality especially in South Florida, beach culture. There is more comfort with sharing your body. Indianapolis was a really interesting place. It was a bit more closed off. You get these windows into how communities are showing or not showing support for survivors.

Photo by Imani Givertz

ID: You created the Universal Art Collective, give us a rundown of this?

AW: It started as a digital collective during COVID-19. A place for artists to share their work because galleries were closed. I had a lot of pieces locked up in the gallery for a few months, so that is how it all started. I then met a few different artists looking for studio space, which I had and they started to rent from me. I have definitely taken a step back from the collective because every member has reached these really big projects. We are all focused on refining our creative paths right now.

ID: What challenges have you faced due to COVID-19? How did it shape you as a person?

AW: I have had a lot of time to create which is really great. I feel really fortunate for that because a lot of my creative friends have been really stuck due to the pandemic. My creativity really thrives on my emotion, my mental state, and when I have a lot of time to think.

ID: What inspires and empowers you?

AW: I feel very empowered by vulnerability. I think it is really freeing to make something honest. I like it to be very clear about what I am saying and what I believe through my art. I find that really empowering. I am recently inspired by abandoned places. I really love abandoned churches and cathedrals.

ID: What advice would you give to aspiring artists and creators?

AW: My advice would be to stay in your lane to an extent when it comes to narrative. I think the most successful and well-communicated artists are people who are telling their own stories. They’re not telling someone else’s story or using someone else’s idea. It’s a narrative of their own humanity.

ID: What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?

AW: I have a show coming up at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It will be another large-scale, “I will not let him win in death” installation. Then locally, in Chattanooga, I am working on an installation called, “Mommy”.

See more of Ali Waller on Instagram and her website!

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Photo by Imani Givertz
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