We are delighted to have Ali Wunder, who some will remember as our former Community Outreach and Camps Coordinator, join us as our new Gallery Director.
As a practicing artist married to a practicing artist, Ali has a particular affection for and kinship with exhibiting artists. She earned her BA in Studio Art from Messiah College and a Masters in Art Education from George Mason University. In addition to previously working at The Art League, she has held teaching positions in Fairfax County Public Schools in both primary and high school programs.
Ali, her husband Stephen, and their two very active toddlers recently moved back to Northern Virginia after several years in Queens, NY. She’s excited to be back as part of The Art League community and looks forward to greeting all of you and the new exhibit year in the gallery!
We sat down with Ali and asked her some questions about art, The Art League, and moving back to DC.
What is your earliest memory/interaction with art?
My aunt was an artist. As a child, I would go over to her house and she would give me “art lessons.” We would create and experiment, and she would buy me new supplies to play with. It was great.
I continued studying art through high school and was a studio art major in college with a concentration in mixed media. I liked to do everything, so focusing on “mixed media” was good way to combine it all.
What was the first work of art that really spoke to you?
The first work of art that really spoke to me was Eugene Delacroix’s painting Lady Macbeth Sleepwalking. When I was in middle school, my aunt took me to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and they happened to have a Delacroix exhibit. It’s a tiny painting, and it is so eerie. There is something about the look on her face and the use of so much black that really affected me. I begged for the exhibit catalog and I still like to go back and look at it.
Which artists, dead or alive, do you admire most?
Nick Cave is my all time favorite artist. Kara Walker, known for her cut-paper silhouettes depicting historical narratives, is another artist I greatly admire. While I love her silhouettes, I’m really blown away by the depth of her drawings. I recently took a drawing class [in NYC] and have been interested in studying drawings by the old masters, like Degas.
What made you want to come back to The Art League?
In a lot of ways, I don’t feel like I ever really left! The Art League has always been home. I love that The Art League is truly an intersection of art and community – two things I’m very passionate about. I’m excited to be back at The Art League and to have the opportunity to serve our artists, viewers, and community in the gallery.
How do you think your background as an art educator will influence your role in the gallery?
I’m already thinking of ways to integrate more educational components into what we do in the gallery. I would like to do programs for both viewers and members that invite them into a conversation with the work in our gallery.
For example, later this month we’re having our first event centered on the monthly solo artist exhibit. Drawn In: Taking a Look at The Art League’s Solo Artist Exhibit, taking place on Thursday, July 26 at 6:00 pm, is an art-viewing and making Happy Hour. In this free, hands-on event, participants are invited to take a closer look at work created by our monthly Solo Artist (Guy Jones in July). After a critical viewing exercise, participants will engage in an in-depth discussion of the work, as well as the artist’s process and intent. A responsive art making session will follow. Wine and light refreshments will be served.
What did you miss most about DC?
Surprisingly, a lot of restaurants! Stephen and I are excited to patronize many of our old favorites. I also really missed the ability to easily run outside. Trying to run in NYC is stressful!
What will you miss most about NYC?
We’ll definitely miss the access to Manhattan and all it has to offer. The energy of New York is unlike anything or anywhere else.
What Art League class would you like to take?
How do you take your coffee?
With cream, no sugar. At the moment, Stephen and I are really loving Swing’s Coffee in Del Ray.
What’s your favorite color?