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Randy Hayes at the University Museum

By Andi Bedsworth

It seems Thursday is the magic day locally as there have been art receptions for major players in the arts scene on these three consecutive weeks. Carlyle Wolfe led the pack with Martin Arnold and Laurin McCracken both following at Southside Gallery. This week, the University Museum hosts a new exhibition of Randy Hayes’ work.

Unwritten Memoir by Randy Hayes will be on display in the museum until December 9th and is a survey of his work created from 2004 until the present. He moved back to Mississippi part-time in 2004 and now resides permanently in Holly Springs. Having been raised in Clinton, Mississippi, Hayes is no stranger to the state. However, his world travels have informed his life and inspired his work, which is vast. A lover of photography and books, Hayes has a way with imagery and of capturing a place, time and emotion. His current practice of painting on his own photographs is mesmerizing as the imagery is layered, complex and compelling. This collection of work was influenced by his travels to Turkey and Japan and, of course, by Mississippi. In the exhibit is a series of photographs and objects, which are connected to each other, and also a series of small paintings of objects. The series was begun about twenty years ago, but this is the first time it has been exhibited. The show is laid out in an appealing way featuring photographs and objects leading the way to a large display of his paintings on photographs. These range from small size paintings of objects to larger size compositions inspired by his travels abroad and his life in Mississippi.

Hayes studied art at Rhodes College, then at the Memphis College of Art, and traveled north to work in scenic arts in Boston. He constructed, painted and sometimes designed sets for television and film during this stint. Moving to Seattle, he ran a bookstore/gallery and continued a long career as an artist. In 1990, he developed a method of painting directly onto grids composed of photographs he has taken. This distinct style is truly his own and sets his work apart from other photographers and painters. He merges the two seamlessly in compositions that truly capture an instant, a moment, a feeling and say way more than a photo or a painting could say on their own. Hayes is an artist at his core and an experienced and confident one with no airs and no grandiosity. His work speaks for itself and is unpretentious and honest. About his work, Hayes says “Traveling to other countries or within the United States, mainly in the South and especially Mississippi, I take photographs which become both the primary source of my paintings and the subtext upon which the paintings are made.”

The reception for this show will be held this Thursday, September 14th from 6-8 p.m. at the University Museum as part of their annual membership party and is free to the public.