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Community Supported Art
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2017 Artists
  Grimaldi Baez
  Leah Bailis
  Marc Blumthal
  Julianna Foster
  Alexis Nutini
  Lucia Thomé
 
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  Studio Visit with Leah Bailis
   
 

Earlier this year, CSA organizers Mike Konrad and Ephraim Russell visited Leah Bailis’ Germantown studio for a preview of her CSA edition. In the back upstairs room of her row house, we found a heap of salvaged denim on her worktable surrounded by tools and supplies that you might find in a tailor’s shop. As we inspected the pile of materials more closely, templates emerged for about fifty textile masks.

Pinned up around the room were multiple examples of the work in progress. The masks take on a surprisingly powerful range of characteristics -- from mirthful and humorous in some, to a little bit unnerving and downright uncanny in others.


 
For her CSA edition, Leah is making a series of fifty unique masks using salvaged denim from jeans that she collects, embellishing them with metal studs, beads, and decorative stitching. Leah uses the existing features of the pockets, rips, and seams to design each one of her masks around the unique personality of the reclaimed fabric.


In our conversation about this new edition, Leah spoke about the materials she selected and the research she was doing to develop the new masks:

 

“I’ve been collecting my old jeans for awhile and was originally going to make a piece after a Gee’s Bend quilt I saw. I like that the denim is worn and I wanted something with a history and with a little heft. I’ve been looking at a lot of African masks and rite of passage rituals from the southern tip of South America; also old Looney Tunes characters like Jeepers Creepers the ghost and the social mores that play out in the cartoon.”

 

Leah’s work has a strong intellectual and political component, and she sees the CSA project as a chance to take a different approach to making her work.

 

“One of the reasons I wanted to do the CSA project was because creating so many pieces so quickly I couldn’t really be self analytical about it, which is very appealing. I’m at this point with my art where I want to figure stuff out less in the beginning and just let it become its own thing. So the velocity of this body of work is fairly conducive to that.”

With this energized approach Leah is creating a dynamic, provocative and challenging edition. We are all highly anticipating the completion of the project, and look forward to seeing her full cast of characters emerge.

-- Ephraim Russell,
2017 Community Supported Art Organizer
-- Photos by Mike Konrad,
2017 Community Supported Art Organizer

   
 
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Community Supported Art is program of Grizzly Grizzly and Co.
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