By Callan Steinmann, Blanton intern

I love it when I walk into a gallery or museum and it says ‘American Artist.’ I’m very proud of my makeup, but my makeup is many different people and many different experiences. I believe in making things that become so personal, they become universal.  
—Radcliffe Bailey
Artist Radcliffe Bailey

Artist Radcliffe Bailey

As part of the Public Programs team here at the Blanton, I’ve had the opportunity to work on many exciting programs this year. In addition to the traditional gallery experience, the Blanton offers some great opportunities for visitors to connect with art in different and interesting ways – like the Music at the Blanton series, film screenings, Yoga in the Galleries, poetry workshops, gallery talks and artist lectures, just to name a few (check out our website for a full schedule of programming!). One of my personal favorites are the visiting artist lectures — it’s such an incredible experience to get to hear living artists talk about what influences and inspires their work.

Next Monday, Feb. 25, Atlanta-based artist Radcliffe Bailey will give a talk in the Blanton Auditorium at 6 p.m. This program, presented in a partnership with the UT Center for Art of Africa and its Diasporas, will present an engaging conversation between Radcliffe Bailey and University of Texas at Austin Professor of Art Michael Ray Charles.

As a native Atlantan, I’ve been familiar with Radcliffe Bailey’s work for quite some time; I’ve seen his mixed-media assemblages at the High Museum of Art and Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, and I worked on developing a teaching packet based around his piece Seven Steps at the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens, Georgia this past summer. Bailey’s work never fails to draw me in; his pieces call on the viewer to look closer, to explore, to get lost in the rich layers of materials and meaning. Much of Bailey’s work features vintage sepia-tone photographs of African-Americans from decades past. The story behind these photographs is a fascinating one: When Bailey was attending the Atlanta College of Art, his grandmother gave him a collection of more than 400 old tintype photographs of his family dating back to the 1800s. Bailey said of these photographs: “I received these images at a time when my work was in transition … some date from the time of the Civil War. Some of my family members were in northern cities and they fought in the war. The photographs are really about the history of us all. They are just as much American as African-American.”

Bailey's painting By the River

Bailey’s painting By the River is part of the Blanton’s permanent collection.

Bailey incorporates these photographs with paint, found objects, and other materials into mixed-media collages on wood or canvas. His work, layered with symbols and personal narratives about his family’s history on the Underground Railroad, explores ideas not only about the African-American experience, but also about the human experience.

Join us next Monday, Feb. 25 at 6 p.m. in the Blanton’s Auditorium for what is sure to be an engaging and inspiring conversation about Radcliffe Bailey’s work.

Callan Steinmann is the Public Programs intern at the Blanton, and a 2nd year master’s student studying Art Museum Education at UT Austin.

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