Clift’s unique and mysterious cloth paintings are delicately crafted using fabric. Throughout her artistic career, Clift has been fascinated by the challenge of creating an authentic sense of space through the illusion of fabric. Some of the most recent works depict the beauty of nature in a surreal, narrative manner.
Using cloth as a primary medium, Clift’s work initially conveys a sense of curiosity, exploration, and play. The result has yielded visuals that are compelling and multi-faceted. The longer a work is observed, the more it will unfold for the viewer; a sense of awe is instilled as realization and wonder set in. The work has a certain gravity that creates a focus and then an understanding of Clift’s artistic questions and solutions. The artwork effectively captures an expression of movement (or stillness) through the handling of material that can be folded, pressed, or flattened; it lends an incredible depth and visual activation. There are layers of multi-textured fabric, thread and stitches, and thick canvas cutouts that are paired with a dramatic use of color, light, and dark.
Clift’s subject matter focuses on one’s environment and the memory of experience, and many images being variations on the same theme. This points again to the artist’s investigation and experimentation with cloth acting not only as medium, but as well as the key color source, defining line, and vital compositional element. All of them contain a feeling of tranquility and quiet movement, but the use of deep shadow lends the slightest nod to something ominous and impending.
Ali Clift’s unique and mysterious cloth paintings are delicately crafted using fabric. As a graduate of Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Clift’s first cloth paintings were inspired, technically, by a picture composed of small cloth pieces on display at the MFA. Throughout her artistic career, Clift has been fascinated by the challenge of creating an authentic sense of space through the illusion of fabric. As she continues to expand her creative process, each new body of work introduces distinct subjects and a notable change in an exploration of cloth as a medium for painting. An ardent and engaged traveler, she shares—literally and figuratively—fragments of her experiences in new environments. Clift’s earlier works inspired by Mexico are featured in the book Paintings of the Last Decade: Still Life, which is the second publication featuring the artist. The first, entitled Beyond the Big Top: The Cloth Paintings and Graphic Works, explores her successful circus-themed works. Clift’s work is included in public collections in New England, New York, Canada, Israel, Vietnam, and Bali. She resides in Chelsea, Massachusetts and Naples, Florida.