Alumni Stories: “Where Are They Now?”

New Light

‘Mirror Image’
Ali pictured as an adult.

“One of my earliest memories is me sitting down writing stories and having the most imaginative scenarios and narratives.”

The artistic potential was inside of her, waiting to be unleashed. Curiosity steered Ali toward her high school’s career center, which eventually led her to the doors of AFH.

Ali pictured as an AFH teen.
Ali in the AFH Painting Studio.

“I think one of the most important lessons that I’ve ever learned is that everything can be broken down into shapes.”

Ali draws inspiration from multiple sources: pain, daily conversations, and her East African roots. For several years, all of her paintings contained a special shade of orange. One autumn day, her friend sent her pictures of some leaves. ‘These trees are ‘Sumi orange,’” he said, “Which is my nickname,” Ali shared with a smile. Though her style has evolved, ‘Sumi orange’ uniquely captures her warmth and vibrancy at AFH.

Ali’s paintings with ‘Sumi orange.’
‘Sacred Gold’ illustrates human integration into the cycle of heaven and earth.
“After a couple of hours of painting, I feel more at peace with the world and myself.”

“You can ask them the simplest questions like ‘Hey, how do I even press the start button?’”

Ali remained in the Video & Motion Studio for three months before returning to painting. The lessons and people she encountered along the way made the short-lived experience unforgettable.

‘New Light’
“I finally have my own studio space where I can be messy and free.”

“I’m not so much focused on the outcome. I’m focused on the process and on my students leaving and feeling more whole.”

“[If not for AFH], I don’t think I would’ve looked at art as seriously as I do now,” she said. The community left its lifelong impact, widening her perspective beyond imagination.

“Keep painting. Just keep painting and painting,” Ali would tell her teen self.

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