Consider the statements, “you look nothing like your photograph” and “your photograph looks nothing like you”?
In the piece Line-Up, Damali Ayo explores both personal and social crisis. Line-Up is about being seen. It is about being recognized for who you are and not whom you resemble. Playing on the history of quilt making as a cultural narrative device and its metaphor as a blanket (of generalizations), Ayo has created a portrait tableau of women whom she has been told she looks like. All of the women share two or three (if not all) characteristics with Ayo – they are African-American, have dreadlocks, and are celebrities. Beyond that, that they may be younger, older, taller, shorter, skinnier, fatter, darker skinned, or lighter skinned, having a round face or a narrow one; but these distinguished qualities have gone un-compared by those who identified the women they felt Ayo looked like.
Relating these more personal experiences with the significant problem that exists in our criminal justice system regarding witness identification and the misidentification of defendants, Ayo has included text from testimonies given regarding the problems in regards to witness identification. In combining these two experiences Line-Up calls into question the basis of how we
Damali Ayo was born in Washington D.C. and received her BA at Brown University in 1994. She has participated in group exhibitions including the Kwanzaa Invitations, Anatomy, at the Q-Hut gallery, 25+ women artists at Berbatti’s gallery, Guns in the hands of Artists and Yougenics, all in Portland Oregon. She has had solo exhibitions at the Mark Woolley Gallery and at Our Dream Gallery, both in Portland, Oregon. Ayo has had residencies at Caldera in Sisters, Oregon and at Carleton-Hart sponsored by the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art. She been involved in the set design of numerous theatrical productions including Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, The Woods by David Mamet, and is a founding member of the defunct theatre company in Portland, Oregon. ayo lives and works in Portland, Oregon where she is represented by the Mark Wolley Gallery.