Unwritten Memoir by Randy Hayes

September 17, 2017


Unwritten Memoir by Randy Hayes, now on view at the University of Mississippi Museum in Oxford, explores the artist’s life through photography, painting, and collected memento, with works and objects from multiple bodies of work spanning more than two decades. True to the exhibition’s title, Hayes plays the role of both artist and curator, the auteur of his own story that connects experiences lived and processes honed from the his time living and studying in Mississippi, Tennessee, and the Pacific Northwest, as well as travels to Japan, India, and beyond. He purposely leaves much unsaid, jettisoning prosaic completeness for aesthetic mystery. 


The collected objects and artworks included in the multifaceted exhibition - like pins in a personal atlas - are treated as souvenirs and meditations on layered place and time. Juxtaposed like objects in a shadow box, the conversations between the works are peripatetic and ethereal, inviting the viewer to rifle through the artist’s mind, home, and dreams. Any perceived discontinuity between Hayes paintings of the residents of Kyoto or tourists in Turkey, photographs of the artist with author Margaret Walker Alexander and photographer William Eggleston, and physical keepsakes - like a lady’s beaded Mardi Gras hat - emerge from Hayes’ suggestion that no single media or form can necessarily contain the mushrooming resonance of a life story.


LEFT: the artist, book in hand, pictured with photographer William Eggleston and friends; RIGHT: the physical copy of the book pictured in the photograph



A selection of Hayes’ treasured objects, talisman-breadcrumbs that recall formative connections with people and locale, are united with their pictorial counterpoints. The physical objects complicate the narrative and defy the context of the frame. Are they objects or are they memories? Where, and to whom, do they truly belong?


Sunrise after Tornado, 2016, painted photographs on canvas mounted to canvas


Hayes provides the moments and signifiers, compiled and reordered like flotsam after the storm. The untold remnants of the story are given over to the viewers, along with the authority to complete and interpret the underlying narrative for themselves.  


The exhibition is on view through December 9, 2017.


All artworks copyright ©Randy Hayes. 


Learn more about the artist at randyhayesart.squarespace.com.

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