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Artist Interview: Layo Bright

Working in the round, on the wall, and in relief, Layo Bright’s practice centers narratives of ancestry, feminism, migration, and the African diaspora. She cites her matrilineal heritage, Nigerian Ife Heads, and West African textiles, as well as contemporary artists Simone Leigh, Wangechi Mutu, Beth Lipman, Fred Wilson, and Alison Saar as some of her inspirations. Bright chooses materials that express geopolitical and biographical resonance to spotlight themes of female solidarity and matriarchy, as well as memories of Nigeria and her diasporic experience in the United States. Her portraits in blown and kiln-formed glass and pottery are tributes to the women in her life.

Layo Bright’s first solo museum exhibition, Dawn and Dusk, features new and recent works in glass and pottery made between 2020 and 2024. This show brings together several ongoing series tracking Bright’s synchronized jumps from figuration to abstraction. The exhibition will be on view April 7 to October 20, 2024, and will be accompanied by the artist’s first museum publication featuring an introduction and interview by Amy Smith-Stewart, Chief Curator.

Layo Bright answered a few questions about her work and practice.

Q: What has it been like working with The Aldrich on your first solo museum exhibition?

A: Working with The Aldrich on my first solo museum exhibition has been an exciting and transformative experience, being able to collaborate with the team at the Museum to showcase different works within my practice to a broad audience. I’ve gotten to work closely with Amy Smith-Stewart (Chief Curator) and have had great conversations about my works and how the exhibition comes together. Amy has a deep understanding of the historical and current influences behind the works, as well as an incredible curatorial vision, so it has been wonderful to work on every detail of the exhibition with her. All together, there’s a great synergy with everyone on the team, and a sense of excitement building towards the opening.

Q: What is the most surprising aspect of working with glass?

A: It’s surprising to know just how many ways there are to work with glass—its endless! I’m intrigued by how many different techniques there are, and how each process yields its own unique results.

Q: What has been inspiring you lately in the studio or in your life in general?

A: Nature and culture are major influences in the studio lately. I visited Nigeria recently, and the trip rejuvenated my practice and inspired my works further.

Top image: Photo: Justin Sisson