Princeton Magazine, Summer 2021
Hugh Hayden Sculpture Installation Examines American History and Identity
Creation Myths on view Jan. 18-Jun. 7, 2020, at Princeton University Art Museum’s Art@Bainbridge galleries
PRINCETON, N.J. – Artist Hugh Hayden explores history, identity and the creation of the America we know today through a series of site-responsive installations at Art@Bainbridge, the Princeton University Art Museum’s gallery space in downtown Princeton featuring the work of emerging contemporary artists. Challenging issues of home, society and the politics of materials, Hayden reimagines the domestic spaces of Bainbridge House, which dates to 1766, through meticulously constructed surrealistic sculptures.
Titled Creation Myths, the installation responds to the history of Bainbridge House by creating distinct but interconnected domestic spaces. In the “kitchen,” iron skillets fused with casts of African masks consider the enslaved cooks who helped create American cuisine; in the “study,” a claw-machine arcade game filled with cotton bolls references the quintessential act of slave labor; in the “dining room,” an oak table covered in large-scale thorns evokes the unattainability of the American Dream. Together, these spaces craft a narrative – part fiction, part history – that evokes themes of cuisine, leisure and education.
Hayden sources much of his lumber from sources imbued with meaning, including mesquite he hand-harvested on the U.S.-Mexico border and Christmas trees salvaged from Park Avenue.
Creation Myths, the second installation at Art@Bainbridge since it launched last year, will be on view from Jan. 18-June 7, 2020. The installation is curated by Alex Bacon, curatorial associate, with Mitra Abbaspour, Haskell curator of modern and contemporary art.
“Hugh Hayden’s fantastical work creates a narrative that confronts and complicates ideas of history, mythology and reality,” said James Steward, Nancy A. Nasher–David J. Haemisegger, Class of 1976, director. “In doing so, it continues to investigate the domestic in one of the most historic buildings in Princeton, one that was itself built by a slaveholding family.”
Based in New York, Hayden (born 1983, Dallas, Texas) received his Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University and Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University. He has completed residencies at the Abrons Art Center and Glenfiddich, and his work has been featured in several exhibitions in the U.S. and in Europe, including as one of the inaugural-year commissions at The Shed in New York’s Hudson Yards.
In addition to an open house at Art@Bainbridge on Saturday, Jan. 18, from 1 to 4 p.m., featuring curator-led and artist-led tours, Hayden will join Princeton Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu, who specializes in African and African Diasporic art history and theory, for a conversation about Creation Myths on Thursday, Feb. 20, at 5:30 p.m. in 50 McCosh Hall, followed by a reception at the Museum.
About the Princeton University Art Museum and Art@Bainbridge
With a collecting history that extends back to 1755, the Princeton University Art Museum is one of the leading university art museums in the country, with collections that have grown to include over 110,000 works of art ranging from ancient to contemporary art and spanning the globe.
Committed to advancing Princeton’s teaching and research missions, the Art Museum also serves as a gateway to the University for visitors from around the world. Intimate in scale yet expansive in scope, the Museum offers a respite from the rush of daily life, a revitalizing experience of extraordinary works of art and an opportunity to delve deeply into the study of art and culture.
The Princeton University Art Museum is located at the heart of the Princeton campus, a short walk from the shops and restaurants of Nassau Street. Admission is free. Museum hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Museum is closed Mondays and major holidays.
Art@Bainbridge is a gallery project of the Princeton University Art Museum, featuring the work of emerging contemporary artists in an intimate domestic setting. Art@Bainbridge is located in Bainbridge House (1766), 158 Nassau Street, one of the most historic buildings in downtown Princeton and a brief walk from the museum at the heart of the Princeton campus. Admission is free. Art@Bainbridge hours are Sunday to Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Art@Bainbridge is made possible through the generous support of the Kathleen C. Sherrerd Program Fund in American Art; Stacey Roth Goergen, Class of 1990, and Robert B. Goergen; and Jonathan Golden, Class of 1959, and Roberta Pritzker Golden.
For more information: artmuseum.princeton.edu.
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Princeton University Art Museum
Amber Hendrickson, Blue Water Communications
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