Arts | April 2017
Multidisciplinary artist Randy Hayes is something of a Southern Renaissance Man. Hayes, 72, is a painter, photographer, writer and owner of Herndon, an Antebellum house/gallery located in Holly Springs, Mississippi, that displays a cultivated collection of large paintings he produced from 1980 to the present. His travels have taken him from India to Japan to all across the American South, producing art the whole way.
Click Magazine: How did you get into art?
Randy Hayes: I grew up outside of Clinton, Mississippi, and started drawing as a young teenager. I kept at it through studying at Rhodes College and Memphis College of Art, but it still wasn’t really what I intended to do. My original intention was to just go to college because that’s what you were supposed to do.
CM: What was the moment that changed?
RH: I took a sculpture class with Lawrence Anthony and just loved it. After that, it was tough to concentrate on anything else academic.
CM: How did you develop your distinct style of painting on photographs?
RH: I shoot all the photos myself. The old ones were on film, but now I’ve moved into digital work. The photographs underneath the painting, I call that the subtext. It tends to give a better idea of what the big piece, the primary image, represents as a whole. I put the photographs down, paint them in acrylic and paint them with oil paints.
CM: How was the jump to digital photography?
RH: I originally used to use a material called photo linen to produce my paintings, but it was eventually discontinued. But I seemed to take to the digital stuff just fine, you just need to make a few minor adjustments.
CM: What is it like being an artist in Mississippi?
RH: Well, I spent 40 years in Seattle and before that, I was in Boston. I became an urban person who grew up in Mississippi. I came back down here three years ago because my father was ill in Tupelo and my sister was ill in Germantown, so I settled in the middle here in Holly Springs. However, I had done some recent work here at the time: a large commission for the Mississippi Museum of Art and one for the Jackson Airport. So, I figured that I could move down here and keep a studio.
CM: A lot of your work deals with memory and things from the past. Is this what you set out to make?
RH: I think what I’m trying to do in my work is unite the past and the present. For example, American Jazz and Japanese Jazz: I definitely like the cross-cultural look. You can see it in some of my Kyoto Views series with the contrast in something like a photo of a Japanese man in Western clothing next to Japanese women in traditional kimonos.
CM: There’s an element of photojournalism in your work. Do you introduce yourself to these people you photograph?
RH: Sometimes I talk to them, sometimes I ask permission. However, most of the time I’m going for something more candid. I know if I hesitate, it’s gone.
More work from Randy Hayes can be seen at randyhayesart.squarespace.com, in his latest art book, Randy Hayes: The World Reveiled, and at an upcoming exhibit scheduled to run August 22 through December 9 at the University of Mississippi Museum.
Painting the Planet
Mississippi artist Randy Hayes on capturing the beauty
oftravel through the lens
Interview by Casey Hilder