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Hugh Hayden’s “Brier Patch” Opens in January 2022

Jul 27, 2021 | Art

Hugh Hayden’s “Brier Patch” Opens in January 2022

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Artist Hugh Hayden (American, b. 1983) will realize Brier Patch, a newly commissioned public art project, opening on January 18, 2022. One-hundred elementary school-style desks will be installed. The placid surfaces of the tabletops and seats where children usually learn will erupt with tree branches, ultimately cohering into one tangled assembly. Diminutive desks signal both intellectual development that burst through the formative years and dour seats of learning that witness the overgrowth of nature where no activity transpires, dual outcomes of an education system where some excel and others are left behind.

Hayden’s references in Brier Patch stem from 1881 when Joel Chandler Harris published Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings, now widely condemned and critiqued for describing an idyllic Southern plantation life. To the artist, the brier patch functions as a metaphoric refuge or a prison. 

Hayden was raised in Texas, studied at Cornell University (BA in Architecture) and Columbia University (MFA). His work often explores commonplace objects and their inherent symbolism in individual and collective lives. Hayden utilizes wood as his primary medium, frequently loaded with multi-layered histories, including objects as varied as discarded tree trunks, Christmas trees, cooking pans, or souvenir African sculptures. He saws, weaves, sculpts, and sands the material, creating works that reflect inherent cultural histories. In 2020, Hayden, Lisson Gallery and CLEARING established the Solomon B. Hayden Fellowship in memory of Hayden’s father at Columbia University School of the Arts to support diverse voices in art. 

On view from January 18 through April 24, 2022, Brier Patch will be complemented by a suite of public programs centered on storytelling, education, and Black identity.

Read the press release

Major support for the exhibition is generously provided by the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation and Lisson Gallery. Substantial support is provided by Candy and Michael Barasch, Lambent Foundation, and the William Talbott Hillman Foundation. Additional support is provided by Anonymous, Ingrid Cincala Gilbert, David M. Glanstein, Esq., Stephanie Joyce and Jim Vos, and Sarah Stein-Sapir and Gabriel Lopez.

Major support for the art program is provided by Sasha C. Bass, Bunny and Charles Burson, Toby Devan Lewis, Ronald A. Pizzuti, Thornton Tomasetti, Tiffany & Co., Anonymous, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Substantial support is provided by Charina Endowment Fund, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Sol LeWitt Fund for Artist Work, Madison Square Park Conservancy Art Council, Audrey and Danny Meyer, and The Rudin Family. Additional support is provided by 400 Park Avenue South, Lenore G. Tawney Foundation, Jane Richards, Fern and Lenard Tessler, and Anonymous.

Madison Square Park Conservancy is a public/private partnership with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.

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