art installation in madison square examines inherent tensions in the american education system

art installation in madison square examines inherent tensions in the american education system

BRIER PATCH EXPLORES DISPARITIES IN US EDUCATION SYSTEM

 

visual artist and sculptor hugh hayden explores the human condition through the anthropomorphization of the natural world, touching on commonplace objects and their inherent symbolism in individual and collective lives. hayden utilizes wood as his primary medium just like his latest installation, brier patch, which features a total of one-hundred wooden elementary school–style desks that erupt with tree branches across four separate lawns in the park. the accumulations of desks summon the grid arrangement of classroom seating cohering into tangled assemblies with complex and layered meanings.

 

the project calls on the notion of the brier patch as a place protective for some and dangerous for others and draws the connections to similar disparities within the education system and the ideal of the american dream. it reflects hayden’s artistic philosophy that questions the stasis of social dynamics and asks the viewer to examine their place within an ever-shifting ecosystem.

art installation in madison square examines inherent tensions in the american education system
artist hugh hayden with his installation. all images courtesy of madison square park conservancy.

 

PLACE PROTECTIVE FOR SOME AND DANGEROUS FOR OTHERS

 

in hayden’s installation, each desk, like a tombstone, can be seen as a stand-in for an individual. the chaotic branch structures disrupt the intended placidity of the formation, uniting individual elements to form one interconnected community. the project simultaneously signifies intellectual development and stasis—dual outcomes of an education system where some excel and others are left behind. for hayden, the symbolism also extends to the financial entanglement of student loan debt incurred in the pursuit of higher education.

art installation in madison square examines inherent tensions in the american education system
the accumulations of desks summon the grid arrangement of classroom seating

 

VISUALLY POWERFUL AND FULL OF TENSION

 

‘in hugh hayden’s project, the overgrown configuration of branches overwhelms and encumbers the placidity of seats of childhood learning. hayden imbues each of his works with intense meaning that, when peeled back, reveals lived experiences about rooted systems in our country and the world. he transforms everyday objects into new forms that expose the properties and purpose of the original source.’  brooke kamin rapaport says, deputy director of madison square park conservancy. ‘brier patch is both visually powerful and loaded with inherent tensions—growth and stagnation, seduction and peril, individual and community—that ask us to consider how these dichotomies coexist in engrained systems and the work on view.’

art installation in madison square examines inherent tensions in the american education system
the installation also represents the financial entanglement of student loan debt incurred in the pursuit of higher education.

 

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portrait of visual artist and sculptor hugh hayden.

art installation in madison square examines inherent tensions in the american education system
the chaotic branch structures disrupt the intended placidity of the formation.

art installation in madison square examines inherent tensions in the american education system
a closed-up view of the installation. photo by lynda churilla.

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