Stephen Hayes – Exhibition Opening
1226 Flagman Way
Santa Fe, NM 87505
Through his MFA exhibition Cash Crop, Stephen Hayes captured the art world’s attention. Hayes received his degree in sculpture from the prestigious Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta in 2010. Since then, Cash Crop has been traveling and exhibiting at museum venues such as the African American Museum in Philadelphia for over a decade. An uncompromising tableau, Cash Crop features life-size sculptures of human figures bound in the chains and metal of the West African slave trade. The bodies of men, women, and children are encased at the neck, waist, arms, and legs and fixed to a wooden board. Each board bares its own chains, which spiderweb together, binding the group. On the back of the boards are intricately carved diagrams of how slave traders packed human beings into ships for their torturous and often deadly voyage. Both the composition and title speak to the ways in which the history and prosperity of the contemporary United States are wed to this atrocity of enslaving human beings, treating them like property rather than the dignified human beings they were. A tour de force of an MFA exhibition, Cash Crop launched Hayes onto the international stage and laid the foundation for works to come.