The Fiber Funk of Xenobia Bailey - 3KCBWDAY3

Xenobia Bailey has a personality larger than life itself, an unabashed joie de vivre that transcends even cyberspace. It was during her studies in ethnomusicology at the University of Washington where she became fascinated by the craftsmanship and sounds of the cultures of Africa and Asia. She creates objects of adornment as well as massive installations for an alternative lifestyle in the aesthetic of Funk. I felt an instant connection with her and her fiber art the first time I saw pictures of her installations. My living experiences include Africa and Asia, the very places she has researched. As an ethnographer and cultural activist, Xenobia studied music from a sociological and anthropological perspective. I too am an ethnographer but prefer empowerment and emancipation through education, shunning activism. In Xenobia's words: "I make art to stay sane . . . to be able to reflect on myself. It is therapeutical, a way of identifying, of becoming visible". I am nodding my head in agreement.

The connection between Funk music visuals and Xenobia's Mandalas cement her brilliant vision of the Mandala as an iconic symbol. Music aside, on a personal level I also experience the shapes of giant incense spirals surrounded by sandalwood smoke and conical non la hats from Vietnam, tapestry crochet and the fez or tarboosh from Morocco, colourful Mandalas used in religious traditions in India, bags full of colour and spices throughout Asia and Africa in the art created by Xenobia. Her work feels like my own living stories.

What also appeals to me is the simplicity of the single crochet stitch and mostly acrylic and cotton yarns she uses in order to create her artwork. The single crochet stitch is not all about Amigurumi, acrylics not all about  the cheap and garish. Xenobia's work challenges these stereotypical images and views. Yip, I love her and her art.

Giant incense burners in Saigon and Vietnamese man with non la hat in HoiAn, Vietnam.  Moroccan man with tapestry crochet fez in Marrakesh. Photos my own. 

Ceramic plates and spices in Marrakesh, Morocco. Bags filled with colour in preparation for the Holi Festival, arrangement of rifles in a palace and beautiful hotel lobby, Jaipur, India. Photos my own.

"The Global Africa Project"

Xenobia learned to "funk it together" by watching the women in her community beautify their environments with limited resources



  1. Great pictures and a great artist - thanks for introducing her!

  2. wow I had never heard of her - her art is amazing, thank you for sharing and have a knitty wednesday xxx

  3. Thank you! she is such an amazing artist. It was easy enough to feature her, but I just realised that the other artists I really like a lot all sport the same personality - vibrant woman with purpose and humor!

  4. She is amazing! I'm inspired just reading about her. Thanks for sharing her with the rest of us.