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Stephen L. Hayes

Duke University

Stephen L. Hayes grew up in Durham with his older brother, Spence, and his mother, Lender, who were pivotal in shaping and sparking his creative approach. When Hayes was in first grade, he broke a remote-control car. His brother took it apart and attached the motor to a battery, bringing it back to life. Amazed, Hayes began breaking all kinds of things to see how they worked and what he could create with the pieces. By second grade, his mother had given him a real workbench; she and Hayes’ brother would also bring home abandoned equipment for tinkering. Working with his hands took many forms and by high school, he learned to crochet.

A graduate of North Carolina Central University, Hayes earned a Master of Fine Arts in sculpture at Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta. His thesis exhibition, “Cash Crop,” has been traveling and exhibiting for nearly a decade. In his work, Hayes uses three symbols: a pawn, a corn, and a horse to explore America’s use (or misuse) of black bodies, black minds, and black labor. Artists, he believes, are as much translators as they are creators. He started teaching at the college level in 2011; currently, he is an assistant professor of sculpture at Duke University.

He recently created a monument for the Colored Troops that marched through Wilmington, NC.  “Boundless” was unveiled November 13, 2021 at the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, North Carolina.


Bio created January 2022