Born in Durham, North Carolina, Stephen Hayes is the 2020 recipient of the 1858 Contemporary Southern Art Prize. Hayes is a creator who works with a variety of mediums – sculpture, casting, knitting, woodcuts, video, and audio – to explore issues of race and economics in the United States. Cash Crop features 15 life-size concrete statues chained to a pallet, representing the 15 million people who were transported as slaves from Africa to America. Voices of Future’s Past explores the legacy of growing up black in America. Both works invite the viewer to participate, bringing a new depth to the experience of viewing art. In the Cash Crop installation, viewers walk between the figures, stepping over iron chains, connecting with the human experience of the atrocity of the transatlantic slave trade. Voices of Future’s Past allows visitors to listen to the voices of young black men describing their experiences while looking at the face of an adult.
Hayes writes, “Like the works of contemporary American artist such as Willie Cole or Radcliffe Bailey, my work centers around finding beauty and understanding between myself, as a black male artist, and the nature of the object. My work fuses the past and the present, generally based on sociocultural and economic themes, highlighting American history as it relates to race, identity, and stereotypes in the areas of capitalism, commodification of beings, and the subsequent effects of cultural representation.”
In conjunction with the exhibition is a permanent sculpture designed by Hayes On CAM’s grounds, the first figurative representation of African Americans in the Cape Fear region. Hayes has cast USCT descendants, USCT re-enactors, military veterans, and community members to be a part of this new work of art. This project will promote social change by illuminating this little-known story of African American freedom fighters that will provide a counterpoint to the narrative of the Civil War told by the built environment of the entire South.
Art helps us to process collective trauma and find hope – and light – in darkness. Now, over a year into the pandemic, we see our world in a new light. We have found fresh imagination. There are scars, and, for some, there is significant loss. Yet, we look to the next day with an acquired resilience. This year, the seventh for this exhibition, artists were encouraged to explore the theme of rebirth and renewal. Experience hope and light in this annual exhibition for the holiday season. CAM organized with exhibition brochure.
Twenty Years showcases a selection of Cameron Art Museum’s most memorable exhibitions since its inaugural opening in 2001. Among other leading contemporary artists, this exhibition presents the work of Tony award-winning costume designer William Ivey Long; American robotic and new technologies sculptor Eric Rudd; Canadian kinetic sculptor Diane Landry and acclaimed American painter Donald Sultan.