Crochet Fiber Artist
Designer ● Cultural Activist
Xenobia graduated from the Pratt Institute in 1977 with a BFA in Industrial Design and then went on to study ethnomusicology and fiber arts. She soon began connecting her love of funk music with her art creations which is why her tapestry crochet pieces pulsate with color and movement! Her crochet hats became popular in the 1980s when they appeared in United Colors of Benetton ads, Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing and The Cosby Show.
More recently she has shifted from clothing to larger installations, many of which use mandala-like shapes which she draws from various cultural traditions, always looking for movement and often inspired by homemakers from her family and the history, culture, art, and music of her African American ancestors. In 2016 Xenobia translated one of her elaborate crochet designs into a massive mosaic mural, “Funktional Vibrations,” that was installed at the 34th St – Hudson Yards subway station.
Links for Further Exploration
- Craft Council article: “Funk and the Spirit”
- ABOG Fellow for Socially Engaged Art
- West Harlem Fund: Funktional Vibrations
- Museum of Arts & Design: Xenobia Bailey
- VIDEO: Interview with artist Xenobia Bailey at Brookfield Place
- VIDEO: Xenobia Bailey – The Hudson Yards Project
- Exhibit video excerpt: “Material Cultures” Art Exhibition at BRIC House, Brooklyn
- VIDEO: Etsy Handmade Portraits: Xenobia Bailey, Fiber Artist
Invitation to Creativity
“To be an artist and be able to create things – it’s like fireworks every time you think about something. I try to get energy and movement from something that is not moving at all.”
— Xenobia Bailey
Music is important to Xenobia’s work, especially funk and rhythmic beats. Get some paper and oil pastels and put on some music. Try something with some rhythm that makes you want to tap your feet. As you listen, make lines on the page in response to the rhythm and feelings the music inspires. Feel free to close your eyes in order to free yourself from thinking about what is happening on the page. What emerges? Try different styles/moods of music. How do the different kinds of music influence what lines, color, shapes appear on the page? Share musical choices and your visual responses on the blog.