We re-spotlight an article on the Gee’s Bend quilts, whose work is featured in What Lies Beneath – Women, Politics, Textiles...… Family, Community, and Inheritance in the Quilt-Making of Gee’s Bend
Jewelry and object making…… Spotlight: Haydee Alonso
Original hardwoods: structural rules of weaving…… Spotlight: Sophia DeJesus-Sabella
Elevating everyday materials such as glass, brass and copper, Smith’s designs revelled in the handmade aspects of jewellery making as he hammered and soldered offcuts and shaped metal into new, biomorphic forms.… Art Smith’s Modernist Jewellery
Explore examples of female image makers and their contribution to Bauhaus through 5 defining photographs.… Frauen Vision: 5 Progressive Photographs by 5 Unsung Bauhaus Women
Find out more about Sicgmone Kludje & Vea Koranteng’s knitting club…… Spotlight: Black Girl Knit Club
Miyelle Karmi makes ceramics that are bursting with personality. Starting with a lump of clay, her range of homeware, jewellery and sculpture twist and turn.… Spotlight: Throwing shapes with Miyelle Karmi
Jewellery touches the body in curiously outward facing but intimate encounters. Xuan Ma offers new perspectives on the ways in which the human body interacts with design and craft. By using mirrored metal surfaces and straight lines that run alongside the curves of the body, abstract parts of the human body are reflected and made visible. The inside of elbows, the upside down refracted gum line shown in the inside of the mouth, the underside of the chin – these ‘private views’ all illuminate the ‘hidden beauty of the body’.
For me, jewellery is a creative language to communicate my personal understandings and design ideology to others. After numerous trials and failures in the workshop, I was able to transform all the ideas that seem impossible at first into reality. Thus, I was fascinated by the incredibly enjoyable working process. Another motivation for me is to explore more possibilities in jewellery by applying the newly discovered materials or new effects to my work.Xuan Ma
My collection of jewellery uses reflective surfaces to see and rediscover our bodies emphasising a new, meaningful way to appreciate and understand ourselves. I realise in our everyday life, reflective, shiny surfaces are everywhere and the notion of reflection and positive self-reflection is complex and is too often experienced in a comparative, judgemental way – a selfie is not in fact for oneself even if taking one is a private act. Our obsession with self-image and comparisons with others is everywhere. I realised the strongest reason why we take photos is not just about memories, it is about getting familiar to ourselves—to record and see different views of ourselves.Xuan Ma
To create a more meaningful way of looking, I started to develop serendipitous ways to appreciate the uniqueness of our bodies, especially by highlighting the parts that we can’t directly observe ourselves which in my opinion can be found a true sense of self-beauty. Using my metalwork skills, I have made wearable personal mirrors, which help capture these hidden beauty spots, momentarily or just long enough to instil in us a positive act of self-appreciation rather than of judging oneself.Xuan Ma
Each piece of my collection reveals a part of the body you can’t see yourself such as the inside of the mouth, the teeth, the armpit, bottom, top of the head, elbow, chin and the private parts. I have designed the pieces so that when they are not being worn or used, they can be placed on a table or hung on a wall, as you would with an ordinary mirror. This collection allowed me to rediscover how beautiful the unseen body can be and how a mirrored jewellery object can be empowering.Xuan Ma
All images by Xuan Ma.
‘Private View’ was nominated for The MullenLowe NOVA Awards and has won the prize of Autor Magazine 2019.
Xenobia Bailey’s career is as eclectic and colourful as the spiral crochet patterns that form a key part of her aesthetic. Having studied ethnomusicology at the University of Washington and Industrial Design at the Pratt Institute, she went on to work as a costume designer for Black Arts West and learnt to crochet at the Greenpoint Cultural society in Brooklyn. Her crochet hats infiltrated pop culture in the 1980s, appearing everywhere from United Colors of Beneton advertisements, and Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, to Elle magazine.
“Crochet works well for practicing my craft and developing the aesthetic. It is labor-intensive, but it becomes a meditation, like counting prayer beads”
Bailey’s first influence, however, was her mother – “She created a beautiful ambience with nothing. She’d get these afghans and quilts from the Salvation Army to adorn the house in a way that was like an art installation.” Bailey’s refers to her art practice as an ‘aesthetic of funk’, which celebrates the idiosyncratic, the improvised, and folk art traditions that were built on thrift and any scraps of material at hand.
“There isn’t a commercialised or industrialised African-American aesthetic, it’s more of a craft, and it goes through the music, the poetry, the food and everything. There is a mysticism that surrounds our aesthetic. It’s important for African Americans especially to have a place of being and sense of presence’
Central to Bailey’s ‘aesthetic of funk’ is the mission to make something joyful from ‘the legacy of trauma’ central to the African-American experience: ‘we can make a joyful noise in that funk…From that garbage comes fertilizer, and that’s where fresh seeds sprout.” Mothership 1: Sistah Paradise’s Great Wall of Fire Revival Tent, which draws inspiration from Obeah healing rituals, is a striking example of the ways Bailey combines vibrant crochet, folk inspired patterns and ceremonial fabrics to create afrofuturist work that celebrates the cultural legacy of African American women. Her tent offers a space of sanctuary and solace, whilst evoking the dual nature of funk as both based in trauma but signifying joy: Bailey describes its title as referring to “Sistah Paradise, a fictional African medicine woman, or ‘Obeah,’ who was brought to the US as a slave… It’s a message of resistance, renewal, and racial pride through the process of crochet.”
Bailey has also created large scale artworks that translate her ‘aesthetic of funk’ into public spaces. Funktional Vibrations is a large scale mosaic that decorates the roof of 34thStreet – Hudson Yards station on the New York subway. A mystical, cosmic scene made of her signature mandalas, as well as light rays and shooting stars, Bailey wants this work to function as an ‘activator; it’s not only to be pretty, but to inspire’.
Xenobia Bailey’s blog is available to view here. See below for a video of Bailey discussing her project “Paradise Under Reconstruction in the Aesthetic of Funk”
When graphic designer Michael Eaton contacted musician King Khan he was gifted a very special commission: “I had been a huge fan of his music for years and it just so happened he was thinking of making this Tarot deck so it was appropriate timing”.
King Khan is well-versed in tarot and had studied it for a long time. As Eaton recalls: “The deck was all King Khan’s vision so I would offer up designs until they were correct. They are closely matched to the positioning/colours of the real deck to allow them to be fully functional but also has its own style”.
The aim of the deck was to add a ‘surrealistic mythos to American history’, to add in powerful people who could imbue the deck with spiritual inspiration. Each person is attached to a figure of the major acana, Tina Turner is depicted as ‘Strength’ and TuPac, poignantly, as ‘Hanged Man’. King Khan chose each person with specific intent, which he had been working on for many years before the designs were commissioned. They’re “just very happy and amazed that the cards are out there and people are using them”.
King Khan is a Canadian musician/producer/artist/writer. He is best known as the frontman of King Khan and the Shrines and for being one half of The King Khan & BBQ Show.
Michael Eaton is a Belfast-based graphic designer for film and TV.
We chose to spotlight Bilbao’s work in this Bauhaus special issue because her socially conscious architecture echoes a commitment to geometric scale and a simplicity of translating design.… Spotlight: Tatiana Bilbao