Become acquainted with perhaps a few unknown dimensions – thoughts, ambitions, wisdoms, life changing moments – of this inspiring artist.
When it comes to your art, explain what you do.
Fueled by my interest in history, my recent work depicts imaginary, or even dreamlike, cityscapes that portray a dynamic continuance of time. In my drawings, I am exploring the concept of history as a synthesis of the past and present in which multiple vantage points of numerous incidents are juxtaposed in a single visual expanse. The result is a multifaceted ephemeral panorama that meanders through space, time, and history. The large-scale drawings are comprised of a combination of printed images and found photographs seamlessly melded with pen, ink wash, and transfer techniques. The montage of images is superimposed, rendering dynamic scenes that traverse elements of the past, present, and future.
The compulsive layering and building of the imagery and narrative within the scenes are what I find most satisfying about my work. This highly involved process of construction and elimination and reconstruction allows for an almost meditative exploration of the materials within the drawings and the creative process.
What project are you working on now?
Currently, I am building upon a concept my professor and I were discussing in one of our final “one-on-ones” before graduation. I am working on a series of large panorama drawings that incorporate the figure into the cityscape, using similar techniques to my other work, but with more drawing and painting elements.
How has your practice changed over time?
My work has become more concept driven over the years, focusing more on process and idea, rather than simply technique. Art school has definitely made me more experimental in my approach, helping me become grounded and more self-driven. Professional attitude is everything. After slowing down on the art-making while my girls were babies (they are three and almost two), I am beyond eager to jump back in full force.
Why do you do what you do?
I create because that is what I have always done. As a toddler, at age three, I continuously watched my stepfather draw and studied the strokes that comprised the mythical creatures he created for me. I would eagerly follow in collaboration, colouring in the forms that he imaginatively put on paper. That is where it all began and my excitement for the arts never ceased. From that point on, I used every spare moment to nurture or indulge my newfound creative outlet. I could not get enough of this productive free-flowing form of expression and longed for the revolving process of practice and improvement.
What is your dream creative project?
My dream creative project would be an artist residency in a country such as France or Italy working on my large cityscape drawings while utilizing reference sketches and photos from life. Being immersed in a vastly different atmosphere and location would give my drawings a new depth and heightened energy.
What’s the most indispensable item in your practice?
I would have to say that my poetry books, my folders of cut images and paper scraps, and matte medium are the most indispensable items in my studio. I use a matte medium for everything, and I get most of my inspiration for the imagery and narrative within my drawings from poetry excerpts. Oh, and I can’t forget my Faber-Castell and Precise Pens!
Which place in the world do you find to be the most inspiring?
Though I have only visited the desert once, I have found it to be incredibly inspiring. The mountains and the valleys really do emit those vibrant tans and purple hues that you see in pictures. The landscape itself looks like a painting, and the towering old cacti that are scattered for miles become figurative in the barren terrain.
What are your hobbies?
Beyond drawing and painting, my hobbies include reading and writing poetry. I also love to visit my horse whenever I have the opportunity. Before college and having kids, I spent a majority of my time traveling with my grandparents and competing in rodeos and local barrel races. Those were the highlights of my adolescence. Recently, however, believe it or not, my favourite pastime is spent using sidewalk chalk to draw with my daughters. Because their ages are three and almost two, we spend the majority of our time in the backyard, and our evolving sidewalk drawings are now one of my favourite things.
What is your pet peeve about the art world?
My pet peeve about the art world would probably be the assumption surrounding the relevance and/or purpose of art as an occupation or field of study in society. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have been asked, “What will you do with an art degree?” I can reassure you that I didn’t spend many long nights studying, perfecting assignments, prepping for critique, and writing responses and research papers in order to play with coloured pencils and water colours for the rest of my life. I believe art, like any other discipline or field, requires dedication and drive; however, innovation is definitely key.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
The best advice I have been given comes from two of the most influential men in my life, my stepfather and my art school professor and mentor. Whenever I would confide to my stepfather, he would always encourage me to “empty my cup.” It works both ways. If you are overwhelmed, “empty your cup”; if you’re overconfident, “empty your cup.” That still gets me through day to day; you have to keep the momentum going. The other crucial piece of advice that everyone could (and should) utilize is to steal as many ideas as you can. This can be accomplished through research or simply learning from other artists and creatives around you. It’s imperative to grow and expose yourself to different ideas and concepts.
What are your strongest childhood memories?
My strongest childhood memories will always
revolve around my horses and ponies. Riding was my constant hobby, and at that time, I never stopped drawing horses.
What superpower would you like to have and why?
My superpower of choice would be the ability to freeze time… but only temporarily. I believe that there is an amazing quality in the ability to recognise the significance of a single (fleeting) moment and that an abundance of beauty can be found when exercising such keen awareness. I am sure we all have experienced those moments that we wish we could relive… or savour them just a little bit longer.
Describe a real-life experience that inspired you.
I am always finding inspiration in the smallest details throughout the day whether it be from just a moment of self-reflection and realization or by positively visualizing different scenarios in my mind. The next step in my educational career involves returning to school to obtain my MAT in Art Education. My daughters are definitely my inspiration behind this coming chapter.
Creatively, where do you see yourself in the next five years?
In the next five years, I see myself as an art professor, having obtained my master’s degree, and traveling to art festivals with my family in my spare time. I have two young daughters, and this is the kind of lifestyle and excitement that I would love to expose them to.
Hayley Haddad was born in 1989 in Memphis, TN, USA, where she currently resides.