A human figure carved in wood stands at the top of a stairway, standing in profile and looking towards the right. The stairway is navy blue and speckled with white stars, like the night sky. The background is multicolored irregular striples covering collage elements, which read "MART" in large lettters around the human figure, and "Piano," in small letters below the stairs. The stripes appear to drip beneath the stairs.
Exhibition Label, 40 Years / 40 Artists, January 22–March 8, 2015:
Radcliffe Bailey’s mixed media collages present evocative investigations of history, memory, experience, culture, and imagination. Pages of sheet music are nearly
obscured by swirling washes of color, creating regal scenes on which images of classical African sculptures are layered. - Loretta Yarlow
Speak to Me of Rivers: An Exploration of Race, Identity, and Lived Experience in African American Culture; February 12 - March 3, 2019:
“The day by day experience of art, even though my work may seem to have this layer of history, it is also a cover for what I’m dealing with on a day to day. It’s very much about today. We were talking about where I go next: I’m still thinking about today and yesterday and what’s coming in front of me tomorrow. It’s my attitude to my studio practice.”
— Radcliffe Bailey
Label text (excert) from graduate curated exhibition: "We Gotta Get Out of This Place - Transportive Art" March 24 - May 1 and September 30 - December 11, 2022; Tirzah Frank (MA 2022) and Cecily Hughes (MA 2022)
Radcliffe Bailey is a mixed media artist, collaging elements from numerous cultural, geographic and socio-economic identities. Bailey layers his works with materials rich in meaning to link past and present, and to propose possible futures. His scene shares elements of Afrofuturism, which imagines positive, science fiction influenced futures for Black people, rejecting bleak projections that encourage despair and instead reclaiming power over Black narratives. In this context, Bailey’s lone, African figural sculpture atop a glittering staircase might be seen as an optimistic or even utopian depiction of escape—but from where? to where?
folklore; memory; music; politics; race; African American
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