Artist Interview with Martha Hayden

Artist Interview with Martha Hayden

Click here for more work by Martha.


Welcome to AllArtWorks Featured Artist Series!


1. What other profession is similar to being an artist and why?

Farming. For both:
Negatively:
Lots of hard work, little return, high uncertainty, big disappointments.
On the positive side, you are your own boss, live life your own way, and have a direct sense of pride in work accomplished.


2. What’s the nicest thing you can remember someone said about your work, or an individual piece?

When I was young, I liked it when people thought it was done by a man. That was a long time ago in a different time, but I still like it when people refer to it as “strong.”


3. What’s one thing you’d like everyone to know about you as an artist?

“Nevertheless, I persisted.”
4. What was the last piece of art that you saw that blew you away?

Two shows, James Castle at the National Gallery, and Kerry James Marshall at the Whitney.

Castle is the ultimate outsider, poor, deaf, uneducated, totally isolated. He had no knowledge of “Art,” never visited a museum. Had no materials other than cardboard boxes and junk mail his Mother saved for him, and charcoal he made himself. From this he made art. His family loved him and admired and saved what he did. In his art they read and perceived what he needed. His drawings project a profound love of family and place.

Kerry James Marshall makes large acrylic paintings on unstretched canvas. He is not an “outsider,” but could have been. Like Castle, his work is very much about subject. His are housing projects, barber shops, things from his experience. These are painted in a very direct way, flattened and patterned, but also read well in depth. They are utterly convincing in a way that is not describable. They are paintings that no one else could have done. Castle could make one kind of art his whole life, but Marshall is burdened with “career.” That means he has to “progress” and he has managed to do that while still keeping his unique sense of himself.



5. What’s something you haven’t done but you want to do in art/painting?

I would like to make, and indeed am making, large, narrative paintings, “history paintings so to speak.” The problem is always the subject, and that is probably why I liked the two shows above. I haven’t found my “natural” subject. Evidently my life is not interesting enough, or difficult enough, for me to take it and make it into something more universal. I don’t want the subject to be as obvious as in the examples above because I am a composer. My nominative subject is “aging” and it is an ongoing preoccupation. I’m attaching examples of some of these, because what you have of mine at AllArtWorks, are the small paintings which I make every day, somewhat like a pianist doing scales.
The other thing that I am working on, especially during this pandemic are viscosity collagraphs. These are fun, and keep me from taking myself too seriously.


6. Which artist do you like better - Ingres or Delacroix, and why?*

Definitely Delacroix. He finds his subjects in the Classics rather than in his own life, but his paintings present as excitement, expressed in color and brushstroke. There is a sense of haste, he has much to say and hardly enough time or space to say it. He appears not to hesitate or question his marks.

*The reason we ask about Delacroix and Ingres is because they were contemporaries with wildly different styles!