“There’s a certain time in your career when you have the desire to give back – to share what you may know,” says Radcliffe Bailey, an artist whose works adorn the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Chicago Art Institute, and the Smithsonian Institute, among many others. “The University of Georgia is giving me that opportunity.”
Bailey teaches painting at UGA’s Lamar Dodd School of Art – a job from which he gains as much as he gives. “My students are wonderful because they’re willing to experiment, to try things that have never been done. It’s exciting to be a part of their art and a part of their lives.”
Bailey’s work is famous for the vital connections it makes: between art and life, people and the land, ancestors and their descendants. “Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and great-grandparents,” he says, “and I feel like that’s lost in most families today. In my art, I try to restore some of the lost kinship between people.” Bailey is inspired by – and often uses – old family photographs and heirlooms in his work.
“It’s all about relationships,” Bailey says. “Teaching here at the University of Georgia, sharing ideas with these bright young people, is very much in line with my style and my philosophy of art.”
Toward his students, Bailey feels a particular sense of mission. “Artists carry a lot of insecurity,” he says. “I’m here to help them believe in themselves. What they have to say is very important to the world.”
This article also appears on the Archway to Excellence campaign website.