It felt like one of these privileged moments, when entering not long ago Paula Hayes' creative oasis in the lower east side of Manhattan. The artist exudes the lightness and life of her sculpture, floating above and yet so connected to the earth. She has developed an intrinsic connection to nature since a child living in the farm of her parents upstate New York.
While her "Land Mind" show at the Lever House in New York, was recently extended through April 27, the New-York based environmental artist is preparing for the mid-May release of her first monograph published by The Monacelli Press. The author will host a book signing event from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Lever House (390 Park Ave., New York). Richard Marshall, curator of the Lever House Foundation, wrote the foreword of Paula Hayes by Paula Hayes, sharing with us his appreciation and admiration for Ms. Hayes' work. Paula's art is an ode to life and nature. Her color palette is made of organic elements that blend together to create living sculptures that evolve and interact with us.
Staged in the large and glassed-in lobby of the Lever House, "Land Mind" consists of cast silicone and EPDM rubber planters, some in the shape of dumplings, that hold tropical trees and plants; the sculpture "Slug," which is filled with succulents; and "Aquarium," a 6-foot-high wound-shape tank housing a living eco-system carefully composed by the artist. "Land Mind" feels like an organic oasis in the fast-paced concrete hive of Midtown Manhattan.
This past winter, the artist has planted a similar peaceful feel in the the lobby of the MoMA with two sculptural organic installations. In the public space of the museum, visitors were able to enjoy two terrarium sculptures; one horizontal, biomorphic "slug" and a vertical "egg." Each housed miniature gardens, making the installation a constantly evolving life sculpture. The two pieces brought critical acclaim and significant attention to the New York-based artist, whose popularity within the art scene has grown over the past 20 years.
Her work reflects the beautiful interdependence and the fragile relationship between humans and nature. Each piece is a meticulous and harmonious composition of living organisms, curated by the artist. They result in micro-systems that require the nurturing attention of their care-taker. The maintaining, watering and feeding of the plants, is the vital interaction between the human and the living organisms of his terrarium; This relationship becomes an Art form on its own and is an inherent part of the piece. As Ms. Hayes states:
Living art literally involves the attentive and continuous role of participants and caretakers in all aspects of the continuum of its manifestation and life; This reality is at its core -- a core that is performed by humans along any point in the spectrum of gender. It is essential that there be an internal, collaborative maintenance of the life of the work so that it can exist as an artwork.
I find a calming motherly energy coming out of Paula's sculptures -- probably conveyed by this exact nurturing relationship but also due to the roundness of the organically shaped or wound-like hand-blown glass shell, in which the artist settles her miniature-gardens. Although Paula is most famous for her unique art terrariums, her explorations and work with nature has extended to land art and landscaping. She has created over twenty full gardens for private clients around the country. Her fascination for life and nature remains consistent regardless of scale. And we, the viewers, wish we were Alice so we could shrink in one of these terrarium and linger in the wonderland they enclose.
Paula has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Marianne Boesky Gallery, Jeanne Greenburg-Rohatyn's Salon 94 and the Wexler Art Center in Ohio. Hayes's upcoming exhibits include a show at the Mass. College of Art & Design, and in summer 2013, her work will be part of the distinguished Emscherkunst art program for its second permanent outdoor installation in Essen Germany.
To buy the book online, click here.