Xenobia Bailey works primarily in crochet and knitting. She manipulates her materials to create hats, costumes, quilts, mandalas, tapestries, and freestanding housing structures. Her pieces are often connected to her ongoing project, Paradise Under Reconstruction in the Aesthetic of Funk, which she will continue to develop at McColl Center. Bailey’s designs draw influences from geographical sources like Africa and China, and Native American and Eastern philosophies, with undertones of the 1970s funk aesthetic. Bailey’s artwork has been exhibited at such institutions as The Studio Museum in Harlem, Jersey City Museum, New Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Art and Design, and the High Museum of Art.
Bailey studied ethnomusicology at the University of Washington, where her interest in craftsmanship and textiles took full bloom. She worked as a costume designer for Black Arts West, the renowned African American community theater, until she enrolled at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in 1974. There, she received a BA in industrial design while she learned to crochet under the needle artist, Bernadette Sonona. Afterward, she began to create and sell colorful, hand-crocheted hats inspired by distinctly ornate African American braided hairstyles. Her hats have been featured in print advertisements for United Colors of Benetton, on television in The Cosby Show, and in the Spike Lee film, Do the Right Thing.
Bailey is an artist-in-residence in partnership with Carolinas HealthCare System. Her residency is generously supported by the Windgate Charitable Fund.