Hugh Hayden's 'Brier Patch' opens in Madison Square Park
18 January 2022
Hugh Hayden's most ambition installation to date opens today in Manhattan's Madison Square Park. Titled 'Brier Patch', the exhibition takes form as one hundred elementary school-style desks, the surfaces and seats of which 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.
In a recent profile on Hayden in The New York Times, ICA Miami Director Alex Gartenfeld noted: “Part of Hugh’s work being anthropomorphic is that it’s relatable. There’s a very human quality that signals that the issues it’s contending with are about you and me.”
"Brier Patch" is on view through 1 May, 2022. Find further information on the public installation here.
Hayden's solo exhibition 'Boogey Men' continues at the ICA Miami through 17 April 2022.
Image © Hugh Hayden, courtesy the artist and Madison Square Park Conservancy.