20 Hugh Hayden

Hugh Hayden

New York, United States
The sculptor subverting the notion of ‘American family values’ while exploring the history of the African diaspora
Hugh Hayden

Nominated by Dazed 100er Tyler Mitchell

Hailing from Dallas and now based in New York, Hugh Hayden trained as an architect at Cornell University, but his love for sculpture changed the game. His work arises from a deep connection to nature and the ways in which it can be anthropomorphised to explore the history, identity and legacy of the African diaspora in contemporary America. 

Hayden works primarily with wood, a material he favours because it is often imbued with multi-layered histories of its own. He transforms Christmas trees, souvenir African sculptures and discarded trunks, as well as rare indigenous timbers like Texas Ebony, into metaphors that explore the social dynamics of our world today.

For his recent exhibition, 2018’s Border States, which opened shortly after Hayden received his MFA in sculpture from Columbia University, he examined ideas of citizenship, Manifest Destiny and contested boundaries between people and nations. Recontextualising objects that typify American notions of “family values” –  such as the dinner table, the white picket fence and the baby crib – Hayden used thorns and branches to underscore the danger that lies within these ‘ideals’.

Text Miss Rosen

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