These massive crochet mandalas from artist, Xenobia Bailey, have left me breathless. They are part of an exhibit of Bailey’s work at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
Originally from Seattle, Washington, and now living in Harlem, New York, Xenobia Bailey brings African American roots music into visual terms with vibrant room-sized installations of crocheted mandalas, tents, and costumes. Helping her parents with their cleaning business as a girl, Bailey realized from early on that the aesthetics of a given environment made all the difference in how she felt. Cleaning the restaurants that were nicely decorated felt rewarding while cleaning the “dumps” was just depressing. Her discovery of African aesthetics and culture, of jazz, blues, and fusion music in college contributed to her idea that the psyche was profoundly impacted by one’s physical surroundings. She began to crochet her impression of these uplifting and empowering sounds, and soon began making enveloping installations that seek to uplift and inspire while establishing an African American aesthetic in everyday American culture.