How did you come up with the name of your exhibition?
The title of the exhibition actually did take me a while to come up with. I had a couple of other ideas/phrases in mind and then at one point as I was discussing the theme of the show, I used the phrase “No Man’s Land” to describe the points in life where we don’t have direction for where to go next…something familiar to us all, but a little play on words with the show’s focus being the development of a new masculine identity that can reflect changes in our society in a positive way.
What was the inspiration behind No Man’s Land?
I looked to champion boxers, legendary social and creative figures, friends, and acquaintances for some examples of how the traits of the warrior and the lover might exist in a positive way in the modern man. With more and more women achieving education and salaries that allow them financial stability and independence, the old mythos of the man being needed as the breadwinner and provider, is not always going to be the case, and certainly not always to the expectation of a woman tending to their cooking and cleaning. But at that same time, men were not happy working at soul-sucking jobs just to provide for their families. So we have an incredible challenge and opportunity currently. During this shift in gender dynamics, we must learn from the past and work to empower the inherent gifts and faculties of each gender and more importantly, of each individual to function at their highest abilities. We all want to feel appreciated, useful, challenged, respected and loved. That will mean a lot more acting on our own introspection and our own heart’s desires to find fulfillment and purpose in our lives and freeing ourselves from the old societal demands of the roles we are “supposed” to be playing.
How is the “No Man’s Land” solo exhibition different from others?
This was my first solo exhibiton where I really spent time on trying to develop a certain theme for the subject matter. Usually I just paint on a whim and then every so often, curate from my own body of work and create a show’s concept after the fact of the art being made. With “No Man’s Land”, I spent a little over a year developing the material and simply following a trail of research and inspiration to finally have my largest solo exhibition thus far. It was a fascinating journey, and I did a lot of other painting through out the year as well and a few other shows, but my process for No Man’s Land involved a slower evolution and it was always simmering in the back burner of my mind, getting richer throughout the year as I added new pieces of inspiration or experimented with new materials and techniques.
You created your biggest piece yet on the side of the Welmont Gallery. Tell me about the process, the chosen piece, and your determination.
Yes! Doing the mural was a total dream come true. I painted a couple of murals at my friend’s apartment in Bogota, Colombia, but aside from that, hadn’t worked on walls too often. Even though I like working on relatively large paintings, the wall dwarfed anything I had in the show…My largest canvas piece was 8ft tall by 12 feet wide, and the wall was about 40 ft wide by 26 ft high. It was a lot of hard work but very fun and ultimately, I just genuinely love painting and I know I want that to be my life, so it was a very welcome opportunity. I spent about 20-25 hours on it throughout the course of a week to complete it. It was also cool to be up so high in the air doing my thing and I was able to use a scissor lift that the gallery already owned luckily to get up and down and everywhere haha. Had a couple of sort of brutally cold February days while I was doing it, but otherwise the weather held up pretty well for the timeline. The image itself, along with a few other paintings I did for the show, was inspired by the incredible heavyweight boxer, Jack Johnson. He was the first black champion of the world and I just adored researching him and watching old footage of him. He was my first real muse for exploring the concept of modern man as a warrior and a lover. He was deadly in the boxing ring and also won the affection of many women, but even more importantly, he was taking an unprecedented stand against the status quo and breaking tremendous barriers socially and racially. The world had never seen anyone like Jack Johnson.
What can we be expecting next from Maggie Hayes art?
I am in the exciting planning stages of doing an exhibition with my good friend and wonderful artist named Julie Miller. We don’t quite have dates set, but should be taking place later this spring, definitely before June. As we were brainstorming for putting on the show, we realized we might not have that much overlap with subject matter or process, but she mentioned that she was working with indigo ink pressings on mylar. And I imagined the simple beauty of indigo blue and had recently taken some cyan polaroids, and we ended up deciding on working in the parameters of the color blue. At this point, it’s fun to just have a shifted focus and try to make observations about a new subject matter and how we relate to color emotionally and in the outside world. I am really stoked to crack into it all.
Thank you Maggie Hayes for enlightening myself and viewers. Check out more of Maggie Hayes at Maggie-hayes.com
Featured image was photographed by Cedric Smith