Hugh Hayden: American Vernacular
The first-ever monograph on American artist Hugh Hayden, whose sculptures are known for their engagement with notions of class, race, and cultural assimilation, as well as the construction of nature.
This pioneering study of Hugh Hayden’s work includes 90 full-color images of the artist’s remarkable, labor-intensive sculptural practice over the past decade, as well as critical essays by curator Sarah Montross, Dr. Mark Anthony Neal, Carmen Maria Machado, and an interview between the artist and curator Horace Ballard, PhD.
Hugh Hayden is best known for creating hand-hewn wooden picnic tables, fences, and chairs from which countless tree branches seem to grow maniacally outward—as if nature herself is lashing out in self-protection from these unthreatening icons of leisure and domesticity. These artworks probe at the inequities of home and land ownership across race and class, speaking to the enduring legacies of enslavement that pervade American culture. In other bodies of work, Hayden creates sculptures related to athletics, faith, education, and cuisine—enterprises that together express how American myths and values shape one’s sense of self and achievement. He surveys many dimensions of American life, noting, “All of my work is about the American dream, whether it’s a table that’s hard to sit at or a thorny school desk. It’s a dream that is seductive, but difficult to inhabit.”
About the Author
Sarah Montross is Senior Curator at deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. She has organized numerous exhibitions including Jeffrey Gibson: INFINITE INDIGENOUS QUEER LOVE, Visionary New England (MIT Press), and Screens: Virtual Material.