Born in Marrakech in 1956, Lalla A. Essaydi was brought up in both Morrocco and Saudi Arabia before relocating to the United States where she received her MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/TUFTS University in May 2003.
Lalla's work, which often combines Islamic calligraphy with representations of the female body, addresses the complex reality of Arab female identity from the unique perspective of personal experience. In much of her work, she returns to her Moroccan girlhood, looking back on it as an adult woman caught somewhere between past and present, and as an artist, exploring the language in which to “speak” from this uncertain space. Her paintings often appropriate Orientalist imagery from the Western painting tradition, thereby inviting viewers to reconsider the Orientalist mythology.
Lalla has worked in numerous media, including painting, video, film, installation, and analog photography. Essaydi’s work is represented by Howard Yezerski Gallery in Boston and Edwynn Houk Gallery in New York City. Her work has been exhibited in many major international locales, including Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Texas, Buffalo, Colorado, New York, Syria, Ireland, England, France, the Netherlands, Sharjah, U.A.E., and Japan.
SF Chronicle on Lalla Essaydi at Stanford
9 February 2015
Lalla Essaydi's 'Bullets Revisited 3' is on view at Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center as of Tuesday, February 3 as part of the “She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers From Iran and the Arab World" exhibition.
CNN Reviews Lalla Essaydi: Amid bullets, Arab women reclaim identity
13 July 2014
Essaydi has never viewed herself as a militant. Instead, she has made art that is a constant investigation of the polarization between East and West — art that dispels crude stereotypes of Arab culture and women. She uses the female body to make her viewers acutely aware of a voyeuristic tradition in Western art.But “Bullets Revisited” has an added dimension, and Essaydi says it is her most aggressive work to date.
The Washington Post on Lalla Essaydi
5 May 2012
Essaydi, who has risen to international fame for her stunning portraits of women in Islamic cultures, questions the barriers imposed on Arab women and challenges stereotypical Western depictions of women who live in harems.