A Gallery Teeming with Life: Paula Hayes at the Wexner Center

| November 14, 2011 | 0 Comments

The practice of art is often something akin to devotion.  It can be all-consuming; the focus of your entire life. In Paula Hayes’ delicate and beautiful terrariums on display at the Wexner Center, it is clear to see that what she is devoted to are plants.

“The connection to plants has really been my entire life,” says Hayes.  “Growing up on an agricultural farm, and [I was] always outside.”  Hayes attended graduate school at Parsons in New York City and immediately found a way to stay connected to nature.  Within the first week, she began working as a gardener.  She laughingly admits, “I don’t think I’ve ever really adjusted to living in New York City, and I’ve been living here for over 20 years.”

Her deep connection to plants is immediately apparent in her hand blown glass terrariums. The amount of love, care, and commitment to the inhabitants of her sculptures is similar to that of a mother to an infant. “It’s unbelievable because it’s all of the time. My entire life is devoted to it.” Hayes will tend to plants for years at a time before even considering sending them off into the world.

Whether or not you’re a nature lover yourself, Hayes’ microcosms of plant life invite you to look closer, to see the delicate variety of plants, and to investigate the tiny landscapes enclosed in glass.  The lushness in each encapsulation transports you outside the four white walls of a gallery to whatever imaginary landscape lives in your mind.

While on display at the Wexner Center, four Ohio State Students tend to Hayes’ creations.  Watching them trim and arrange the plants, carefully water and polish them gives a small insight into the amount of time Hayes devotes to her plants.  The act of creating “caretakers” is another component to Hayes’ vision, what she calls her “tribe.”  Hayes: “I would hope the building of this tribe will educate on how we view our relationship to nature and our role and responsibility.”

In addition to the exhibit at the Wexner Center, Hayes was commissioned to design an outdoor garden installation entitled Wexner Center Rooftop Garden that is a permanent addition to the Wexner Center. The exhibition is on display through December 30th in the Wexner Center galleries, and Hayes’ will do an artist’s talk there  on November 16th at 7:00 in the Film and Video theater.

For hours and information, visit: www.wexarts.org

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