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Radcliffe Bailey, Notes from Elmina III, 2011, gouache, collage, and ink on paper, 12 x 9". From the series “Notes from Elmina,” 2011–.

Radcliffe Bailey

Davis Museum at Wellesley College

Radcliffe Bailey, Notes from Elmina III, 2011, gouache, collage, and ink on paper, 12 x 9". From the series “Notes from Elmina,” 2011–.

Radcliffe Bailey’s multilayered narrative art explores issues of culture, memory, and history related to his heritage and experience as an African American. Titled “Memory as Medicine,” this near-two-decade survey (organized by Carol Thompson and Michael Rooks of the originating High Museum of Art in Atlanta) featured thirty-one works riffing on key chapters from the grand narrative of black history, with frequent allusions to tribal West Africa, aptly demonstrating the artist’s inspired ability to present his modern world as a continuum with his genetic past.

This spring, the Davis Museum featured works that incorporated such elements as tintypes of anonymous relatives, African statuary, model sailing ships, tobacco, and Georgia red clay to form stunning tableaux uniting fiction and history, trickery and documentary factitiousness. Windward Coast, 2009/2012, perhaps the show’s

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