Bailey Ferguson (b. 1985) is a contemporary American artist, her work speaks to the fragility of natural systems by investigating the world above and below the sea surface and seek to express moments of equanimity in chaos. Ferguson earned a BFA in Studio Art (2008) from the University of Denver and a BFA in Communication Design (2012) from Metropolitan State University of Denver. She studied at Studio Art International in Florence, Italy. Recent honors include: a solo exhibition, Under the Liquid Veil, at the Wailoa Art and Cultural Center in Hilo, Hawai’i; an Artist-At-Sea Residency sailing from Honolulu to Fiji aboard the Research Vessel Falkor with the Schmidt Ocean Institute; a featured story-teller at Volcano Art Center’s Stories from the Summit; and awarded1st Place for her painting “DISPLACED: The Day the Red Glow Stopped” in the 2019 juried exhibition “Transformative Forces” at Kahilu Exhibits in Kamuela, Hawai'i. Ferguson lives and works in Kailua-Kona, HI, and exhibits regularly.
Outside of her studio practice, Ferguson is an avid surfer, snorkeler, and soon-to-be certified diver. She volunteers with a coral research lab on Hawai’i Island. Since 2016, Ferguson has been a creative contributor to the web series, The Culinary Edge TV, which covers themes of food, culture, and travel from around the globe.
My current abstract painting language was developed while I was displaced for 70-days during the 2018 Kilāuea eruption on Hawai`i Island. My perspective on life and art was transformed as the earth violently shifted and forced magma through its surface. This experience connected me emotionally to the climate refugee diaspora involving trauma, impermanence, loss, and ultimately, healing. For me, the ocean was a space for healing, and specifically surfing, which was a main vehicle to gain an awareness of life below the sea surface.I was not always accustomed to coastal living. I was born and raised in Nebraska (a triply landlocked state) and didn’t experience the ocean until I was in my late teens, yet it has become the most important natural connection in my life. My series, Rainforest of the Sea and Wipeout, explore the near-shore ocean environments, such as point breaks, coral reefs, and geological features. I use color, texture, and line to suggest movement, change, and energy. For me, the turbulence of water reflects life’s ups and downs, and the fragility of natural systems speaks to the age of the Anthropocene. The paint flows naturally with gravity’s force, as I shift the canvas between horizontal and vertical orientations, encouraging puddles, splashes, and bleeding of thinned acrylic pigments. I chose a more direct approach when using palette knives, spray bottles, and repurposed tools to create movement and textures that represent change and energy. Often, the exposed edges of my substrate surface reinforce fragmented memories held within the paint both above and below the surface.