"My thesis work explores the theme of intimacy through a series of investigations into color, material, space, and relationships."
Photograph by Danielle Finney
Started in April 2020, while the core of her thesis is on pause, this website, Ambivalent Intimacy is a digital approach to continue the research and exploration of intimacy during the unique time of social distancing.
Aliana Grace Bailey is a May 2020 graduating MFA student whose thesis studio practice was abruptly put to an end in March when she had to move out of her on-campus studio space due to COVID-19. Through this site and her social media, Aliana is collecting thoughts from the public on how COVID-19 has impacted people's experiences and thoughts around intimacy, then creating digital art collages in response on an ongoing basis that will live on this site.
At the center of Aliana's thesis were collaborations, relationship building, sharing physical space, and celebrating connections with people in the city of Baltimore through her project Connections & Conversations. Her unfinished thesis is a large-scale installation montage of collage, painting, weaving, photography, rug tufting, and surface pattern design.
Special thank you to all participants for sharing their thoughts and experiences through this digital exploration <3
Intimacy takes many forms—physical, emotional, mental, sexual, and spiritual. Intimacy is the loving embrace with a best friend, a heartfelt conversation with a family member, an affirmation from your lover. Intimacy is a process where people can feel seen, known by, and connected to another. Just as it is widely recognized to exist physically between couples, intimacy can exist in any or all its forms within all relationships—including between friends, colleagues, families, and any other self-identified collectives.
While intimacy is not something to force, it is something that can be intentionally explored, better understood, practiced, celebrated, and strengthened between individuals and communities. Intimacy is one of life’s greatest treasures and fears. It requires opening parts of ourselves up, leaving us vulnerable to the possibility of great loss and heartbreak. In the same breath, intimacy is an essential part of living, loving, surviving, and healing.
Through material, I weave layers of connections, comfort, and conversations, exploring a deeper connection to mark-making and abstraction. I am embracing my art as a comforting and healing experience for viewers, in new and intentional ways. My art practice begins within myself at the core of my being and expands outward. I have learned that by creating artwork that focuses on self-exploration and vulnerability, audience members join in the journey and begin reflecting on and/or participating in a similar life-enhancing process of self-empowerment. I wish to inspire people to feel love and courage, as well as appreciate their relationships and everyday interactions with others, whether small or large.
The psychologist Susan David, speaking on emotional courage, has said, “How we deal with our inner world drives everything. Every aspect of how we love, how we live, how we parent and how we lead.” My current work embraces artmaking as a vehicle for my own personal development and inner peace by aligning it with my greatest values—a specific focus on deepening and building the relationships that surround me.
Aliana Grace Bailey is a multidisciplinary conceptual visual artist, designer, and socially engaged art practitioner who thrives on vibrant colors, intricate patterns, bold typography, and raw emotion. She was born and raised in Washington, DC and graduated from North Carolina A&T State University, where she double-majored, earning a Bachelor of Social Work and a Bachelor of Art in Visual Arts Media Design. During her college career, she discovered even deeper artistic passions, developed a strong sense of self, and embraced what it means to be a leader. In May 2020, Aliana earned her MFA in Community Arts from Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), where her passions continued to grow, developing a special interest in grief support. By practicing vulnerability, self-love, and empathy, she hopes to inspire the same in others. She is a recipient of the Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Foundation Fellowship, the Leslie King Hammond Graduate Fellowship, the Libby Bowerman ’82 Fellowship, and the TILA Studios Above Four Fund. Aliana Grace Bailey strives to give viewers a sense of joy, healing, and a reminder of how to love—themselves and the world.