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Mask Up! Five Questions with Scarlett Baily

Blog Category:  Museum Shop
Artist Scarlett Baily at work on a mural

Scarlett Baily is a Chicana visual artist, based in Mexico City, who specializes in murals, paintings, and illustration. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Architectural Digest, and Elle, among others.

A medium-skinned woman with ear-length straight brown hair smiles widely for the camera. The photograph is cropped from her chest up; she wears a black sleeveless top, red lipstick and gold hoop earrings. Behind her on a white wall the outline of a face, drawn in black outline.
Artist Scarlett Baily

Show your support for women artists and civil rights, as well as public health, with face masks designed by Baily from the Museum Shop. Her “Pioneers and Protest” mask design features important advocates for LGBTQ rights and racial justice. “Mujeres Muralistas” features pioneering Mexican women muralists. Buy your mask today!

1. What was it like growing up in El Paso, Texas?

There is something unique about border towns. El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, are sister cities woven together by the baronial Chihuahuan Desert and the flavors of tamales, menudo, and burritos. The most vivid memories of my childhood take place at my Abuelita’s house, where family from both sides of the border would stop by. When I wasn’t trying to catch horned toads, I would lose myself drawing. Making art was a creative outlet that bewitched me from a very young age.

2. How does your Chicana identity influence your designs?

I went to very diverse public schools, yet never saw myself represented in textbooks. I studied art history in college and again was fed a very Eurocentric education. I could not understand why I knew more about a culture overseas rather than one that I could see. I realized that we cannot depend on someone else to tell our stories. As an artist, I take responsibility for telling stories that are left out. My work resurrects all the faces and places that re-center my belonging and help to create widespread representation for my community.

On the left, three white masks are decorated in the same black illustration of a group of women in boldly patterned clothing. On the right, the white masks have an illustration of people holding protest signs that read “Black Lives Matter,” “No Justice,” and “I Stand With You.”
Left to Right: Baily’s “Mujeres Muralistas” and “Pioneers and Protest” designs

3. As an artist, has anything changed for you during quarantine? 

Prior to quarantine, I spent long periods of time in lockdown creating. What changed was that everyone around me entered lockdown, as well. With the demand for commercial art on pause, I have finally found the time and headspace to create a personal body of work. The reignited civil rights uprising motivates me to go deeper in celebrating identity and multiculturalism. Previously, this felt very risky and undervalued. Another quarantine surprise: missing human connection and feedback, I now share more of my work in progress and my investigative process on Instagram @scarlettbaily.

4. Do you think the art/design world has changed for women?

This is an incredibly exciting time to be a woman artist! The internet gives us a space to share our art independently. In my art school days, I felt intimidated by the necessity of a gallery and the dominance of site-specific installation art. I wanted to draw and paint! Now, in a reimagined artist/gallery structure, and the digital space, I can make the kind of art that I want. That being said, the patriarchy is woven deeply into systems, and we must always be on guard in the good fight.

5. Which women artists inspire you?

Here is the hot fire from an endless list: Maris Bustamante, Guerrilla Girls, Amy Sherald, Mónica Mayer, and Lauren Halsey. All of the muralists featured on the NMWA mask: Rosina Larragaña, Maria Izquierdo, Elena Huerta Muzquiz, Aurora Reyes Flores, and Patricia Quijano. And all of the artists in the National Museum of Women in the Arts!

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