Harlem-Based Artist Fuses Afro-Centrism, Feminism and Spirituality into her Decidedly Funk Aesthetic
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Harlem-Based Artist Fuses Afro-Centrism, Feminism and Spirituality into her Decidedly Funk Aesthetic
Xenobia Bailey – Bit by Bit, Little by Little, 1999. Fiber. Photo: James Dee.

BROCKTON.- Fuller Craft Museum presents Portions of the Re-Possessed: Fiber Work by Xenobia Bailey on exhibition in Fuller Craft Museum's Great Room August 2, 2008 through March 8, 2009. The exhibition will include large-scale wall mandalas, crocheted in vivid colors and patterns, made of cotton acrylic yarns and plastic pony beads.

Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Xenobia Bailey studied ethnomusicology at the University of Washington, becoming fascinated by the craftsmanship and sounds of the cultures of Africa and Asia.

"Using freeform crocheting to create objects of jubilation, I remixed patterns of African and Native American basket fiber arts to create hand crocheted mandalas, revival tents, meditation/ prayer rugs, ceremonial aprons, garments, and headdresses," Said Xenobia Bailey. "African American popular music of the 60's and 70's and urban folklore were among my inspirations. "

After designing and producing costumes and masks for Black Arts West, a local African-American community theater, she was accepted by Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in 1974. Bailey received a BFA in industrial design, but after learning to crochet from Bernadette Sonona, a needle arts teacher at Greenpoint Cultural Society, a cultural community center in Brooklyn, she began to make and sell colorful crocheted hats inspired by African-American hairstyles, textile patterns and African architecture. Her hats have been featured in Elle magazine, on The Cosby Show, and in the Spike Lee film Do The Right Thing.

Bailey's aesthetic was developed and influenced by the decorative needle craft in her parents' home, the funky-chic artistic works of her mother, African visual vibrations, the feminine mystique, spirituality, communion with nature, the pulse of life, motion, and energy.

The artist's laborious handiwork is the means to a monumental end - the "re-possession" of culture through objects that make a triumphant connection between the contemporary lifestyle, a romance with Ancient Africa and the rituals of everyday life.

Bailey has been artist-in-residence at Pittsburgh's Society for Contemporary Craft, at the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation in New York City. She has exhibited at the Studio Museum of Harlem, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and the Jersey City Museum. Her work is in the permanent collections at Harlem's Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Allentown Art Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Arts and Design.

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