Ali Vaughan

Due to COVID, the live-in internship in the Bay that I had started 3 weeks prior was moved online, so I had to pack up all of the things I had just moved in and return to my childhood home in Bakersfield. I hadn’t spent an extended period of time there since freshman year of college, and before quarantine I didn’t really plan to go back for that long ever again. As it turned out, this time became exactly what I had needed but hadn’t yet found since graduating. With any sort of stable future plan out of the picture, I was forced to look at what was in front of me, and to digest who I wanted to be as an artist without delaying the question through frantic overcommitment or job searching.

I had come out of Stanford making photographic sculptures, but had always felt a strong pull towards painting and drawing. I decided to re-learn these things for myself, sketching and painting at first without much direction until a direction presented itself.

I found myself drawn to the vast, flat, arid central California landscape and the graphic geometry of agricultural and industrial structures within it. One day, I imagined a giant bird flying over an empty desert field, casting its shadow on the ground beneath. From there, these bird paintings and drawings started.

The bird is an uncertain figure, floating and searching over a landscape dominated by vibrant color and pattern. Without saying too much, it’s been a nice protagonist during a time in which I don’t know where I’ll be or what I’ll do in the near future.

You can check out more of Ali Vaughn’s artwork on Instagram!

Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic is an initiative sponsored by the Poetic Media Lab and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University.

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