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Kenzie Thornton

Hugh Hayden, Surrealist Sculptor, Addresses The Education Debate Empty Hugh Hayden, Surrealist Sculptor, Addresses The Education Debate

Sat Jan 15, 2022 4:03 pm
In New York's Madison Square Park, his public art work tackles the complex challenges plaguing American schools.

Hugh Hayden, Surrealist Sculptor, Addresses The Education Debate Hugh-Hayden-Surrealist-Sculptor-Addresses-The-Education-Debate

Hugh Hayden, a sculptor, said, "Just guard your eyes," as he circled the wooden school desk he'd built from cedar logs with their branches still attached. Strange, untamed, lifelike appendages sprouted from the seat and desktop in all directions.

Hayden, 38, was nearing the end of his most ambitious project to date at Showman Fabricators in Bayonne, New Jersey. The art project "Brier Patch," which opens Jan. 18 in Madison Square Park in New York, assembles 100 freshly minted school tables into outdoor "classrooms" over four lawns. The biggest cluster transforms from an ordered grid of right-angled seats to a tangle of potentially eye-scratching branches crossing in midair.
"He's challenging both opportunity and unfairness in the American educational system," Brooke Kamin Rapaport, deputy director and chief curator at the Madison Square Park Conservancy, said of the "brier patch," a reference to the fictitious Br'er Rabbit legends as well as a thorny crop of plants. The program begins in the midst of a storm of disputes raging in classrooms over curricular modifications addressing systematic racism and whether or not to stay open in the face of the Omicron surge.
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