interview / liz rice mccray

Alayna Coverly is an Ann Arbor-based artist working figuratively with oil paint. She has her BFA in painting and drawing, along with a Museum Studies certificate and a minor in Art History from Ohio University. Alayna Coverly is currently producing work in her studio that focuses on the intimate bonds we have with others. Thanks Alayna for taking the time to answer our questions.

Will you talk about the complexity of your paintings?
I feel like even though the core idea of absence and presence is in all of my work, each piece comes from a different thought. While each piece has physical layers, they also have figurative layers. During my time at Ohio University I got involved in protests after a woman was assaulted on the street where I lived. As I began going to rallies and became involved as an activist and feminist, my work transitioned to being rooted in feminism. To that end, I use the image of smothering to convey both warmth and what could be interpreted as suffocation. This is most evident in my piece, “The Stability of Femininity.” The design on the fabric hints at the fragility projected onto femininity, while the background consists of symbol iconography that shows the stability of femininity.

What sort of effect do you hope your art will have on viewers?
My hope is to allow people viewing my work to project memories or past bits of their lives onto my painting. My intent is purposeful ambiguity; I want my work to be a shared experience. One of my early paintings, “But Not Forgotten,” represents the idea of a person staying with you forever, whether they’re still physically around or not. That led to the idea of a family member being embedded in wallpaper, with all its connotations of home. That feeling of being in another’s presence, but not completely, is the lingering impression I’m after.

Any last words for our readers?
The first piece of feminist literature I read, The Handmaid’s Tale, was significantly empowering for me and still resonates in my work, especially considering today’s social climate. With my artwork, I aspire to leave people with that same impression, which is why I intentionally create ambiguous paintings, allowing the viewer to have a more personal experience. I believe it’s necessary to support one another and talk about the feminist issues that we face.

Where can people check out your art?
My work has recently been featured on Supersonic Art, at the Ann Arbor Art Center’s show, REMIX, and Shadows, a show at Carrington Arts in Sandusky, OH. My work can also be seen at Art Prize 9 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, this September, and at the Talon Gallery in Portland this December. I’m featured on as a studio resident and people can visit my website at