Radcliffe Bailey

Artist Statement:

Though I was trained as a sculptor, I am also a painter, and work experimentally across many media. Starting in 2003, I began to make what I call "medicine cabinet sculptures," accumulative works that combine sculpture and painting, inspired conceptually by Kongo minkisi. I've always liked to draw, and in recent years, I've started making small works on paper, watercolors and gouaches inspired by Indian miniatures. I like to modify found objects to make 3-D works and to create large-scale, multi-sensory installations that are kinetic and that incorporate sound and smell.

I believe that by making things that are very personal they become universal. I am first and foremost an artist, a person of this world, and an artist of African descent who grew up in the South and has chosen to continue to live and work in the South. My art is about history and the mystery of history. Scientists, preachers, tricksters, they are my muses. I am also very much influenced by musicians, poets, inventers, and practitioners, by people like George Washington Carver and the recently-deceased Charleston blacksmith, Philip Simmons.

While I am influenced by historic figures that have transformed and changed the world, I am also influenced by family members, by my mother, my children, and my grandparents. My mother was quietly creating experiences for me to make art when I was a child. She was my first art teacher and is, today, my most important critic. She introduced me to museums at a young age, allowing for my first encounters with African art, with the art of James van der Zee and Jacob Lawrence, for example. Talking about my grandparents, while what they made may have had nothing to do with making art, I admired, for instance, how my grandmother made a quilt for someone who was sick and how my grandfather made bird houses, always in close communication and in-tune with nature.

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Bridgette Mayer Gallery   709 Walnut Street Philadelphia, PA 19106   tel 215 413 8893   fax 215 413 2283   bmayer@bridgettemayergallery.com   Site by exhibit-E™