States Of Being

Radcliffe Bailey

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Works (Tap to zoom)


Radcliffe Bailey (1968-2023) was a painter, sculptor, and mixed media artist who utilized the layering of imagery, culturally resonant materials and text to explore themes of ancestry, race, migration and collective memory. His work often incorporated found materials and objects from his past into textured compositions, including traditional African sculpture, tintypes of his family members, ships, train tracks and Georgia red clay. The cultural significance and rhythmic properties of music were also important influences that can be seen throughout his oeuvre.

An iconic work of Bailey’s, Windward Coast–West Coast Slave Trade, is composed of hundreds of discarded piano keys. This piece expressed his love of music, as well as the history, culture and spirituality contained in song. Here, the undulating keys are arranged to resemble the turbulent waters of Middle Passage. The waters of this work are physically embodied by music, an intangible entity carried over to new worlds and a trans-generational vestige of African heritages.

Individual experience served as a departure point in Bailey’s quest to excavate the collective consciousness of African diasporas and regional American identities. Found objects and imagery present seemingly bygone pasts as contemporary, neon Northern Stars that lead us through Bailey’s constellation of works on view, exploring and interweaving our shared histories. Often quilt-like in aesthetic, his practice created links between diasporic histories and potential futures, investigating the evolution or stagnation of notions of identity.


Stressed World
The School, Jun 05 – Dec 03, 2022
This Tender, Fragile Thing
The School, Jan 15 – Apr 30, 2022
Radcliffe Bailey: Ascents and Echoes
20th Street, Nov 04 – Dec 18, 2021
The School, May 20 – Oct 06, 2018
The Coffins of Paa Joe and the Pursuit of Happiness
Jun 08 – Aug 25, 2017
Radcliffe Bailey: Quest
20th Street, Apr 28 – Jun 23, 2016
Status Quo
The School, Jan 31 – Apr 12, 2015
Mise En Scène
The School, Aug 01 – Dec 01, 2014
Jan 16 – Feb 15, 2014
Outer Spaceways
20th Street, Apr 21 – May 21, 2011
Altered Destiny
20th Street, May 24 – Jun 29, 2007
From The Cabinet
20th Street, Nov 17 – Dec 22, 2005