Xenobia Bailey, Steal Away, National Black Theatre, Harlem, Manhattan, 2023

  • Xenobia Bailey, Steal Away, National Black Theatre, Harlem, Manhattan, 2023
  • Xenobia Bailey, Steal Away, National Black Theatre, Harlem, Manhattan, 2023
  • Xenobia Bailey, Steal Away, National Black Theatre, Harlem, Manhattan, 2023
  • Xenobia Bailey, Steal Away, National Black Theatre, Harlem, Manhattan, 2023
  • Xenobia Bailey, Steal Away, National Black Theatre, Harlem, Manhattan, 2023

About

“Steal Away,” is an exhibition by fiber artist and cultural activist Xenobia Bailey located on 5th Avenue, 125th Street, and 126th Street in Harlem. The 500-foot-long artwork is installed on the construction fencing surrounding the future home of the longest-running Black theater in New York City, National Black Theatre (NBT). Honoring the First Nation Territory of the Munsee Lenape People, “Steal Away” is amalgamation of ideas and aesthetics specific to the indigenous Lenape, NBT, and the artist’s personal history. 

Throughout her early career, Bailey attended workshops and courses at NBT. She cites Dr. Barbara Ann Teer’s Theory of “The Power of Soul Technique,” the education she received at the theatre, and her mother’s domestic textile aesthetic as integral to her pursuit of art. 

To create this piece, Bailey took up hook and yarn to crochet the foundation; then, by digitizing her crochet-work, she created an artwork that was printed on vinyl and placed on scaffolding sheds surrounding the construction site. 

The imagery in “Steal Away” is a “Funktional Design” remix of the handmade domestic textiles of rural and urban African American Homemakers and urban pop-culture referring to music and graphic design. It also features archival photographs from performances presented at National Black Theatre. Elements like eyes, feathers, crowns, and celestial bodies punctuate the artwork calling in a “Cosmic Funky” aesthetic while referencing various forms of cultural symbolism. The artwork acknowledges the impact of NBT theatrical work to transform the often afflicted lineage of Black Life experiences into a rejuvenating theatrical ceremony. 

Click here to read the full Press Release
Click here to listen to the artist speak about her work

Partners & Sponsors

“Steal Away” was commissioned and produced by National Black Theatre to celebrate and promote this site as its future and permanent home, in collaboration with ArtBridge. It is part of City Canvas, an initiative of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the Mayor’s Office.

Category
New York City