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Hugh Hayden’s Striking New Sculptures Take on the Inequities of Public Education (Artsy)

Feb 8, 2022 | Art, Press

Hugh Hayden’s Striking New Sculptures Take on the Inequities of Public Education (Artsy)

Madison Square Park

Throughout the world, there is an inextricable link between education, equity, and economics. It is also widely believed that education is the greatest weapon against inequity and injustice. Sculptor Hugh Hayden’s new work Brier Patch, an installation that was recently unveiled in New York’s Madison Square Park, calls into question who does—and more importantly, who does not—have access to the primary antidote to generational and systemic poverty: high-quality public education.

Hayden, 38, whose principal material is wood, constructed 100 school desks to create “classrooms” on four lawns throughout the park. The desks, of the 1970s wrap-around design, are tan and raw, stripped of their protective maroon bark; the logwood was salvaged from the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Emerging from the desks are lanky and languid tree branches void of foliage. The limbs are so barren, it’s hard to resist the notion that they exist in a permanent state of winter, never to blossom again. Up close, it’s easy to become entranced by the masterful melding of branches to desks; Hayden once again proves to be a skilled sculptor. He creates a discourse between what was and what is, the organic and the inanimate.

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