Xenobia Bailey in collaboration with Boys & Girls High School
Century 21: Bed-Stuy Rhapsody in Design: A Reconstruction Urban Remix in the Aesthetic of Funk
For three months, Xenobia Bailey collaborated with Boys & Girls High School students to design and produce “up-cycled” furniture created in the African-American aesthetic of Funk. These pieces outfitted one of Weeksville Heritage Center’s historic Hunterfly Road homes. By designing home artifacts for an imaginary young artist couple living in today’s Bed-Stuy, students engaged with recycled materials while exploring how Brooklyn artisans can leverage industrial design to support their creative dreams and self-determined financial goals.
Weeksville Heritage Center
158 Buffalo Avenue
between Bergen Street and St. Marks Avenue
Photo by Daisy Chen
Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Xenobia Bailey studied ethno-musicology at the University of Washington, where she became fascinated by the craftsmanship and sounds of the cultures of Africa, Asia, South America, and India. She later studied Industrial Design at Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn, New York, where she was introduced to lifestyle possibilities through design. Today, the New York City-based Bailey is best known for eclectic crocheted hats, large-scale mandalas, and tents consisting of colorful concentric circles and repeating patterns. Her designs draw influences from Africa, China, and Native American and Eastern philosophies, with undertones of the domestic aesthetic of her mother and other African American rural and urban homemakers, and of the 1960’s and funk visual aesthetic. Many pieces are connected to her ongoing project Paradise Under Reconstruction in the Aesthetic of Funk.
Bailey has been artist-in-residence at Pittsburgh’s Society for Contemporary Craft, at the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation in New York City. She has exhibited at the Studio Museum of Harlem; the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York City; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; and the Jersey City Museum. Her work is in the permanent collections at Harlem’s Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture and Museum of Art and Design, in New York City, and the Allentown Art Museum, Pennsylvania.
Boys & Girls High School
Boys and Girls High School, the oldest public high school in Brooklyn, is a comprehensive high school in Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York. Prominent alumni include Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, Lena Horne, and jazz pianist Randy Weston. The school features an outstanding collection of artworks commissioned in 1975 for the current location at 1700 Fulton Street.
To accompany their artworks for Funk, God, Jazz & Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn, we asked all four participating artists to contribute playlists of music that inspired or evokes their commissions. Encompassing everything from the prolific brilliance of jazz performer Sun Ra to the witty hip-hop of Outkast, these soundtracks express both the common themes of the exhibition and the vibrant individuality of our featured artists.