Rachel Hayes: Transcending Space

Exhibition Information:
March 11, 2023 - March 1, 2024

Fruitlands Museum
Harvard, MA

Organized by Haley Clouser

Thumbnail image: Rachel Hayes, Edge of Becoming. Courtesy of the artist.

Installation views of Rachel Hayes: Transcending Space, Fruitlands Museum.

Rachel Hayes: Transcending Space, presented in Fruitlands Museum’s entranceway and main gallery, features recent works by Oklahoma-based artist Rachel Hayes. Blurring the realms of craft, sculpture, architecture, and land art, Hayes creates large-scale textile installations that respond to their natural and manmade environments. Transcending Space features several of her large, color-block fabric hangings alongside a new body of work that combines dried flower bouquets with patches of vibrant fabric. Supplemented by PLATFORM 31: Rachel Hayes, The Edge of Becoming on Fruitland’s hillside, opening in June 2023, the exhibition showcases the range and evolution of Hayes’s practice, while enlivening and transforming Fruitlands’ existing spaces.

Hayes repurposes nylon, polyester, and cotton segments from earlier artworks and stitches them together into grid-like abstract compositions. Each work is inspired by a given site, like the White Sands National Park of New Mexico or the golden, grassy fields of Kansas. Her pieces recall the monumentality and immersive sculptures by artists like Richard Serra and Christo, and embody traditional craft techniques like those of the Gee’s Bend Quilters. By confounding these artistic movements, Hayes challenges conventional definitions of “women’s work” and upends the traditionally male-dominated title of “sculptor.”

Leaving in every imperfect stitch and frayed edge, Hayes openly displays an artwork’s life and the hand behind its making. Transcending Space encourages deeper inspection of the works’ subtleties, from their textures to colors and stitchwork, and reveals the sincere gestures embedded in each of Hayes’s creations. The exhibition reflects the vast range of awe-inspiring experiences offered at Fruitlands, where one can be as struck by the landscape’s beauty and grandeur as by the delicately crafted fiber works from Shaker and Indigenous communities in the museum’s permanent collection.

Rachel Hayes: The Edge of Becoming

Exhibition Information:
June 21, 2023 - April 1, 2024

Fruitlands Museum
Harvard, MA

Rachel Hayes, The Edge of Becoming, 2023, nylon, cotton, steel, aircraft cable. Courtesy of the artist.

Landscape recalls you into a mindful mode of stillness, solitude, and silence, where you can truly receive time. – John O’Donohue

Rachel Hayes creates vibrant large-scale textile installations that respond to their natural and built environments. She often repurposes pieces of nylon and cotton from previous works and arranges them into grid-like compositions reminiscent of Modern abstract styles and American quilt-making traditions. By blurring craft, sculpture, architecture and land art, Hayes’s works complicate notions of fragility and power, and invite new ways to engage with our surroundings.

The Edge of Becoming is a new outdoor commission by Hayes installed along the hillside of Fruitlands Museum’s property, and expands upon her indoor exhibition Transcending Space. Hayes chose fabrics with bright colors that both relate to Shaker textiles found in the museum’s collection and evoke a sense of optimism sought after by the site’s Transcendentalist founders. Its title draws from theories by Irish philosopher John O’Donohue, who voiced connections between beauty and the edges of life. A threshold between the viewer and the space beyond Nashua River valley, The Edge of Becoming encourages meditative moments for reflection on oneself in connection to the world.

Website last updated 6/2/2024.