Bailey Recalls How Her Ideas about Art Expanded at Arcadia, PAFA

By Purnell T. Cropper | September 26, 2014


Since graduating from Arcadia University in 2009 with a Bachelor in Fine Arts, where she specialized in painting, artist Jannalyn Bailey ’09 completed a Masters of Fine Arts at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 2012 and had one of her designs featured on skirts by fashion and décor retailer Anthropologie.

Bailey returned to campus on Sept. 11 to give a lecture on her development as an artist and the exhibition of her work featured in Arcadia’s Commons Art Gallery. Bailey described the collection of 13 paintings and four drawings as “abstract, with figurative or landscape qualities.” Playing with brightness, her paintings tend to be colorful with materials ranging from ink to glitter. One of the artist’s favorite pieces, “Night Ride,” reminds her of a cross-section of the interior of a torso or plant. “It prompted a conversation after I made it about my interest in micro versus macro or interior versus exterior or landscape versus body,” said Bailey.

Bailey admits to being resistant to this type of art at first. Before coming to Arcadia as an undergraduate, she had a narrower view of what art should be. “I had a very specific idea of what art was when I came to college—what was good art and what was bad art,” she said. But professors such as Carole Loeffler introduced her to “fiber and weird art,” while Karen Misher and Maryann Worrell, both of whom teach metals and jewelry, expanded her idea of “art as object.”

Now when describing herself as an artist, Bailey identifies as “a maker.” Although the majority of her works are paintings, she produces artwork using many different materials. As she explained during the lecture, she began experimenting with mixed media in the “panty drawings” she created as a graduate student at PAFA. The drawings were inspired by her thoughts on personal body image. “I’m a dark, hairy woman, and society has this idea about the way your eyebrows are suppose to look, how much hair you’re suppose to have on your upper lip, and what you’re suppose to look like in a bathing suit,” Bailey said.

“Somebody asked me yesterday if I’m expecting myself to keep making work like I did in grad school,” Bailey said referring to the works on body image. She explained that she would like to continue to address the topic but predicts that her attention will shift as she continues to develop as an artist. “It helps to look at your own work, and then push it forward a few more steps.”