Donté K. Hayes, Iowa City, Iowa
Donté K. Hayes’ research is focused on interpreting Caribbean, American Southern, and African continental traditions crossed with themes of hip-hop culture and Afrofuturism—a term Hayes interprets as “a projected vision of an imagined future which critiques the historical and cultural events of the African Diaspora.” Hayes uses the ceramic object to conceptually bridge disparate objects and ideas for the purpose of generating new meanings and connections with the material, history, and social-political issues. Hayes is researching and expanding his knowledge of the untold history and truths dealing with the distinct black experience of the Middle Passage (the triangular trade route in which millions of Africans were forcibly transported to the New World as part of the Atlantic slave trade).
Hayes’ most recent body of work is a response to how society shapes identity on the basis of assumptions and accusations rather than lived experience and open conversations. His art confronts the viewer with issues of self imagery, stereotypes, and class. Though the abstracted, bust-like, highly textured sculptures can stand on their own, seen in larger groupings they read as individuals whose stories contribute to a larger narrative. The combination of humor and provocation disarms and then challenges the viewer to examine the work as a whole more deeply.