Rachel Hayes is a nationally recognized artist who creates fabric structures that vibrantly explore painting processes, quilt making, architectural space, light, and shadow. Because of the large-scale nature of her installations and her interests in painting and the craft of sewing, Hayes’ work is a balance of power and fragility. A striking example of the balance Hayes achieves is Not Fade Away, a “sensuous and experiential” atrium-filling installation at the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, VA. Like many of her colorful patchwork installations, this piece allowed Hayes to explore her “fascination with processes and materials based in craft and design to create an abstract composition that embraces the language of painting while interacting with space in a sculptural manner.”
When Hayes first began her career, she wanted to challenge the dialogue often surrounding her work that focused on craft and specifically the process of sewing. She explains, “Out of frustration, I created work as large and as bold as I possibly could — as if that would render it more masculine, therefore more powerful — all while using delicate materials and building with tiny stitches. Though I continue to work on a large and sometimes even monumental scale, the work has revealed so much more to me over time.” Her current works are multi-faceted, evoking landscape drawings, utilitarian textiles fading in the sun, stained glass chapels, Mid Century stripe paintings, monolithic sculptures, theater backdrops, sacred cloth, provisional shelter, and modern Americana quilts. Hayes is interested in how the power of scale and the ordered construction of bright color can attract a viewer’s physical response, but, as she says, “I hope they will also experience more subtle and ephemeral nuances such as the changing light and shifting shadows or the sound of fabric rustling in the breeze, perhaps even eliciting emotion.”
Hayes’ installation-based works have been exhibited extensively at venues like the Sculpture Center in Queens, NY, where she designed a linear corridor of pleather, vinyl, velcro, and wood titled Trans Revelation Celebration. A folded nylon and light-gel installation titled Almost Always was displayed at The Nerman Museum in Overland Park, KS. Hayes has been commissioned to create public projects in cities across the country. She has attended numerous artist residencies including the Marie Walsh Sharpe Space Program in Brooklyn, NY and the Art Omi International Artists Residency in Ghent, NY. Hayes has received the Augustus Commission for the Arts Fellowship in Sculpture and a Charlotte Street Fund Award.
As a visiting artist and lecturer, Hayes has worked with a diverse range of students in fiber, sculpture, painting, ceramics, and photography departments at numerous institutions such as University of Iowa, University of Vermont, and University of Arkansas. Born and raised outside of Kansas City, MO, Hayes received her BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has based her studio in locations across the USA from Brooklyn, NY, to Roswell, NM. Hayes currently lives in Tulsa, OK.