Ali Cavanaugh


 listening without hearing, modern fresco (watercolor on clay board), (2011), 16 x 20 in

fading into a luminous lucidity, modern fresco, (2009), 30 x 30 in

a continuum…filtered through a dream, modern fresco, (2011), 30 x 30 in

reassembling of thoughts complete an understanding #1, modern fresco, (2011), 24 x 24 in

indefinite awareness, modern fresco, (2011), 16 x 20 in

above a transient illusion, modern fresco, (2010), 22 x 30 in

the outcome is indefinite, modern fresco, (2011), 15 x 22 in

in a minute, modern fresco, (2008), 22 x 30 in

moment of momentum, modern  fresco, (2011), 16 x 20 in

Artists Bio

Ali Cavanaugh was born in St. Louis in 1973 and has worked as a professional artist for 15 years. Her compositions are strong and intuitive, thanks not only to being a wife and mother but also to the variations in her experience—such as hearing loss—that made her adapt to and recreate the world around her.

Cavanaugh developed a process best described as neo fresco secco, where she applies watercolor to plaster panels; her figures often are accentuated by stark white negative spaces. Fascinated by the dichotomy of the seen and unseen in the human condition…body and soul…Cavanaugh’s art brings to light the complexity within contemplation. Her signature poetic titles are part of this engaging discourse.

Cavanaugh was awarded the prestigious Presidential Scholarship from the David Wolcott Kendall Foundation, a four-year, full-tuition merit scholarship. This allowed her to study painting at Kendall College of Art and Design and in 1994 She was accepted into the New York Studio Residency Program in New York City (through Parsons School of Design). Cavanaugh earned a bfa with an emphasis in painting in 1995. In 1996, she co-founded the New School Academy of Fine Art in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Through the mid- to late 1990s, Cavanaugh established a vast following of students and collectors and became one of West Michigan’s most sought after private instructors. In 2000, upon relocating to Santa Fe, New Mexico to establish her work in the town’s world-renowned art scene, she also developed her watercolor technique.

She has had 40+ solo and group exhibitions in galleries throughout the U.S. Cavanaugh’s art has been featured in publications such as New American Paintings no.88, American Art Collector (cover artist), American Artist Watercolor, Watercolor Artist magazine, Southwest Art magazine, International Artist magazine, Art Calendar magazine (cover artist), and The Daniel Smith Art Supply Catalogue. Perhaps because of her work’s infectious energy combined with deep reflection, her collectors are particularly devoted. Her work has received extensive recognition and is featured in more than 400 private and corporate collections throughout the U.S., Canada, England, Germany, Portugal, Switzerland, Singapore, and Australia. She now lives in the St. Louis area with her husband and three children.

Artists Statement

My dependence on the visual world began when I lost much of my hearing through spinal meningitis at 2 years of age. This loss was a blessing in disguise as I learned to depend on body language and reading lips to communicate. So, from my youngest days, I became sensitive to the people around me and the unspoken language revealed through compositions of the human body.  Initially I am inspired by the external characteristics of the women that I paint, but am quickly drawn beneath to the internal reality of their existence. The deep connection that I have with the subjects of my paintings is often spontaneous and unexpected.  I’m constantly in a state of awareness; taking in the imagery, colors, and patterns that to my eye are compositions. This keeps me in a place where my perception is enriched by each and every moment. I find that I am led to portray the figure in intuitive and abstract compositions because visual uncertainty creates an extraordinary conduit for me to have a momentary glance into another’s unique experience.

Ali Cavanaugh’s Website

Ali Cavanaugh at Robert Lange Studios




  • Christina Wegman

    There is a surreal quality to the way the girl’s hands become like sock puppets that speak for her . . . the explanation that the artist has lost much of her hearing gives an added depth to the beautiful lighting and graceful rendering of these paintings. . .