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Aliana Grace Bailey Celebrates the Healing Power of Pattern and Design

Aliana Grace Bailey Celebrates the Healing Power of Pattern and Design

In 2019, Aliana Grace Bailey studied the art of Japanese SAORI weaving in New York. Her colorful textile-based work radiates energy and joy. She sees the process of creating art as a vehicle for ‘growth, impact, and inner peace.’ She has participated in artist residencies in Ghana, Washington, D.C., and Maryland. Her interest in SAORI stems from the fact that it embraces the “individuality, process, and beautiful flaws and details that make each creation unique.”

Not Real Art Artist Of The Day Series

After growing up in D.C., Grace Bailey earned dual bachelor degrees in Social Work and Visual Arts Media Design in North Carolina. She followed up with an MFA in Community Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Her goal is to inspire others, assist victims of trauma, and create ‘deepening connections to love, spirituality, intimacy, and healing.’ She was a featured teaching artist at The National Gallery in Washington, and recently apprenticed at The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia.

Grace Bailey’s patterned reliefs, vivid designs on fabric, and color-saturated weavings are influenced by costumes and floats of the Brazilian Carnaval, moments from Black experience, and relationships between family and friends. Her work traces her creative journey from childhood to the present day. With combined interests in social work and visual art, she completed an Art for Social Impact fellowship at The Sanctuaries; a D.C.-based organization that “brings people of different racial and religious backgrounds together and empowers them to claim their voice,” and launched its socially-engaged Teaching Artist program.

I use art as a means to explore and manifest awareness of self, Black womanhood, the world, and all things sacred to me. My work is bold, warm, and sensual, while also quiet, soft, and special in ways that intimately engage the patient viewer. I am exploring ways to translate sensations into concrete things and allowing forms to marry and hold the viewer with a warm embrace. I have learned that by creating artwork that focuses on self-exploration, gratitude, intuition, and vulnerability—audience members join in the journey.

Despite her vibrant persona, and social-organizing and teaching skills, Grace Bailey considers herself an introvert. As a Black woman artist, she has frequently felt out of place in the professional art world, but has learned to adapt to the cycle of ‘submissions, acceptances, and rejections.’ Earning her MFA during the height of the pandemic was a challenge. Despite the obstacles for emerging artists carving out their space during the COVID era, it seems evident that her creative energy, firm self-belief, and dedication to helping others through the healing power of art will see her through.

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Aliana Grace Bailey — Artist Statement

Aliana Grace Bailey. Headshot.
Aliana Grace Bailey

Through my art, I am deepening connections to love, spirituality, intimacy, and healing. I am exploring these themes through a series of investigations in materials, space, and relationships. While intimacy is not something to force, it is something that can be intentionally explored, better understood, practiced, celebrated, and strengthened between individuals and communities. Intimacy is one of life’s greatest treasures and fears—an essential part of living, loving, survival, and healing. Through material, I weave layers of interconnection, comfort, and conversations; exploring mark-making and abstraction.

My artwork is a juxtaposition of beauty, a sense of optimism, at times, traumatic realities. I use art as a means to explore and manifest awareness of self, Black womanhood, the world, and all things sacred to me. My work is bold, warm, and sensual, while also quiet, soft, and special in ways that intimately engage the patient viewer. I am exploring ways to translate sensations into concrete things and allowing forms to marry and hold the viewer with a warm embrace.

I have learned that by creating artwork that focuses on self-exploration, gratitude, intuition, and vulnerability—audience members join in the journey. By practicing vulnerability, self love, and empathy, I hope to inspire the same in others. I strive to give viewers a sense of joy, healing, and a reminder of how to love—themselves and the world. As stated by Psychologist, Susan David on emotional courage, “How we deal with our inner world drives everything. Every aspect of how we love, how we live, how we parent, and how we lead.” My work embraces artmaking as a vehicle for growth, impact, and inner peace.

Aliana Grace Bailey – Grant Submission Work

Aliana Grace Bailey. Love: Inward/Outward, 2015
Love: Inward/Outward, 2015
Mixed Media on Canvas
4 x 4 feet

I was inspired by the beautiful circular movement of a dancer's flowing skirt, the expression it holds, and the theme of love. This piece began with research inside Rio Carnaval. It really gave me the behind-thescenes look at the process of Carnaval for different communities; from the competitiveness and financial stress to the designing of floats, props, costumes, and coming up with a theme. The process is what intrigued me. My theme is love. Love has a story. It comes in different colors, purposes, magnitude, and impact. It's the relationship we have with our friends, family, artistry, significant other, complete strangers, or something as simple as the nature that surrounds us. It's a lifelong journey of experiences, growth, and perspective; beginning inward with ourselves as the root.

Aliana Grace Bailey. Water Gaze, 2021
Water Gaze, 2021
Mixed Media on Cotton.
72 x 58 inches

Water Gaze explores the themes of Blackness, womanhood, spirituality, rest as a means of resistance, and resilience. Water Gaze is a self-reflection of the artist's journey throughout the year 2020 and where she has arrived. Water is explored as the source of life, purification, healing, and as a space of meditation. Through repetition, spiritual practices, solitude, and truth-telling—the artist fully arrests herself in her own beauty, process, and healing.

Aliana Grace Bailey. Revitalized: Weavings II, 2019
Revitalized: Weavings II, 2019
SAORI weaving

In June 2019, I studied Japanese SAORI weaving in New York. SAORI is the combination of the words 'SAI', meaning everything has its own individual dignity, and 'ORI', meaning weaving. It is founded in the belief that anyone can express oneself freely regardless of age, disability, intellectual aptitude, or gender. SAORI embraces individuality, process, and the beautiful "flaws" and details that make each creation unique. These weavings embody my joy, color process, exploration, and stillness.

Aliana Grace Bailey. Coral Sunset, 2020
Coral Sunset, 2020
Surface pattern design on nylon
(Photography by Danielle Finney)
Design and clothing by Aliana Grace Bailey
Aliana Grace Bailey. FIGHT, 2017
FIGHT, 2017
Mixed media on canvas

Aliana Grace Bailey – Artist Bio

Aliana Grace Bailey was born and raised in Northwest Washington, DC. She is a practicing artist, graphic designer, surface pattern designer, educator, and passionate advocate for radical self-love, wellness, and victim services. In 2014, she graduated from North Carolina A&T State University, where she double-majored, earning a Bachelor of Social Work and a Bachelor of Art in Visual Arts Media Design. In May 2020, Aliana earned her MFA in Community Arts and a Certificate in the College Teaching of Art from Maryland Institute College of Art.

Aliana has held residences in Ghana, Maryland, and Washington DC. In 2017, she completed the rigorous Art for Social Impact fellowship at The Sanctuaries and launched its socially-engaged Teaching Artist program. Working as a teaching artist for several years, Aliana has created and facilitated artmaking for various social justice activations and communities, as well as educating groups on how to utilize art for empowerment, activism, and organizing. In 2019, Aliana was the featured teaching artist at Evenings at the Edge: Wonder Woman at The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. While in Baltimore, Maryland, her passions continued to grow, becoming an advocate for grief support, working with survivors of homicide since 2018. Aliana is a recipient of the Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Foundation Fellowship, the Leslie King Hammond Graduate Fellowship, the Libby Bowerman ’82 Fellowship, and TILA Studios Above Four Fund.

In the Summer of 2021, Aliana will be an apprentice at The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 2022, she will be exhibiting in Manufactured Narratives at Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Aliana on the Web And Social Media

Here’s where to find out more about Aliana Grace Bailey on the web and social media:

About the Artist of the Day Series

All artworks have been published with permission of the artist. Our "Artist of the Day" series is a regular feature highlighting artworks from the 100's of grant applications we receive. The "Not Real Art Grant" is an annual award designed to empower the careers of contemporary artists, and this is one way we honor all entries we receive. Find out more about the grant program here.

Kirsten Bengtson-Lykoudis

Kirsten Bengtson-Lykoudis is a writer, photographer, and former New York Gallery Director based in Washington, D.C. She has an M.F.A. in Fine Art and an undergraduate degree in Russian Literature. She speaks five foreign languages and is currently in a Masters of Non-Fiction Writing Program at John Hopkins University.

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