Becky Alley is an intersectional feminist, mother, multidisciplinary artist, curator, creative collaborator and educator living and working in Lexington, Kentucky, USA. Her artwork is process and materials focused, often manifesting itself in ongoing private or intimate performance elements and installations. Themes of enduring interest are gender, power, ritual, memory, empathy, decay, and the sacred. She loves collaboration and, through her creative work, is particularly interested in expanding the roles of self-reflection and meaning in everyday life.
In recent work, she has used the politically charged topic of war as an entry point into deeper conversations about power, gender, and the sacred. She is specifically interested in war memorials as cultural artifacts, objects that signify those whose lives are most valued and honored in our public spaces. Particularly in American war memorials, language of valor and glory and courage in the context of war are commonly integrated into the memorials themselves, with scale and material designed to command particular awe and reverence in the viewer Gendered notions of patriotism and honor blend with hallowed ground.
Becky Alley’s studio practice is process and material driven. She gravitates towards materials that are common in everyday domestic life: bed sheets, matches, clothes pins, fabric, needles and thread; through a simple repetitive process of counting, she transforms the mundane objects into memorials for the war dead. The ephemeral and delicate nature of the work stands in contrast to the hyper-masculine monolithic forms of marble and stone often associated with memorials. The processes employed speak to labor, struggle, endurance, ritual, and meditation, while the materials serve to reframe our collective understanding of power in ways that give strength to culturally feminized notions like empathy, compassion, and mindfulness.
Alley earned her BFA in Printmaking/Drawing from Washington University (2000) and her MFA in Studio Art from the University of Kansas (2005). Since completing her studies, she has exhibited her work both nationally and internationally, has worked as a gallery/exhibitions director in university and non-profit galleries, and has taught courses including drawing, professional practices, exhibition practicum, and gallery/curatorial studies. She has curated dozens of exhibitions, designed and implemented a variety of community based arts programming, and led a number of public lectures and discussions regarding art and art-making. In 2017 she was named the inaugural Kentucky Fellow as a finalist in Southern Prize, and was also awarded a travel grant from the Great Meadows Foundation to research the gendered aesthetics of war memorials and monuments in Washington DC. In 2018 received an Artist Enrichment grant from Kentucky Foundation for Women for the creation of new work, and was recently awarded a second Great Meadows Foundation research grant to participate in the FAC residency. She is currently the Bolivar Gallery Director at the University of Kentucky.