Hugh Hayden: Homecoming

September 14, 2024 - January 5, 2025 9/14/2024 12:00 AM 1/5/2025 12:00 AM

Working in the tradition of wood carving and carpentry, New York-based artist Hugh Hayden builds sculptures and installations that explore the idea of the “American Dream.” Church pews, a dinner table and chairs, or a football helmet—signifiers of faith, family, and athletics—become surreal and somewhat sinister subjects in the hands of Hayden, who frequently carves thorns and branches into surfaces of things that would normally come into contact with the human body, implying potential harm, or at least discomfort, should they be engaged with. 

For his exhibition at the Nasher Sculpture Center, Hayden will mine memories from his childhood in Dallas, nodding to homelife, school, and play from youth to adolescence. As a key component of Homecoming, Hayden will create a rendition of a children’s playground covered in thorns carved from the base material. The artist envisions a version of the playground known as “Kidsville” that was imagined, designed, funded, and built entirely by volunteer residents of the Dallas suburb of Duncanville in 1989. Hayden associates Kidsville with childhood nostalgia for a time when a community came together for the benefit of their children. Constructed entirely of unpainted wood, Hayden’s primary sculptural material, in a style evocative of children’s treehouses or Medieval forts, Kidsville represented the kind of playground architecture that has slowly disappeared from parks and schoolyards, to be replaced by industrially fabricated, colorful, metal and plastic equipment that characterizes most playgrounds today.  

Accompanying Hayden’s interpretation of Kidsville will be a series of new sculptures by the artist, using familiar objects with complex cultural backgrounds to create metaphors for human existence and the somewhat fraught pursuit of achievement and status. 

The Nasher Sculpture Center's 2024 exhibitions are made possible by leading support from Frost Bank.  
Hayden’s exhibition is made possible by leading support from the TACA New Works Fund.

Nasher Sculpture Center
2001 Flora Street
Dallas, Texas 75201
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