We had the good fortune of connecting with Terry Hays and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Terry, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Thinking back on the journey that got me where I am today I am constantly reminded I am just not interested in anything except creating stuff in my small studio. My attention span is incredibly short for other tasks and my brain does not function when presented with other tasks. I am not good at math, science, physics, economics, engineering etc. so I guess that pretty much leaves being an artist.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Right after graduate school I was given the opportunity to teach painting and drawing at the School of Art, University of Manitoba in Canada and taught there for eight years. After returning to my home state of Texas Kathy, my wife, kept pushing me to either get back to teaching or at least find some kind of art related job. As a result shortly after our return I began theater and stage production work. At the time there were several large really good scenic companies in Dallas and the stage scenery and movie business was booming. As a result I began my full time scenic artist career and still do part time scenic work even today. My own personal work was put on hold for several years, mainly because of the demands of scenic work. The main struggle was painting all day on the job and then trying to paint on your time off not to mention the long hours that were demanded. I had to try to disconnect from work and reconnect with my art in a fresh new way that didn´t remind me of work or being on the job. Plus I didn´t want the pressure of making art, I didn´t want to think about it. I just wanted to relax, paint and make stuff without any kind of judgement on the end product. I spent a lot of time looking at street art, Japanese tattoos, outsider art, Chinese costumes, aboriginal art…anything that I found was interesting, trying really hard to stay away from looking at art whether it be past or present. At the time the one piece I found myself looking at the most was The Throne of the Third Heaven by James Hampton. Truly an amazing piece and still one of my all time favorites. A perfect example of a spiritually driven passionate work by an outsider artist who offered unpretentious work made almost completely from found objects. The inspiring scale also offered the hint of it being part of a much larger plan, suggesting possibly it was merely Act I of a larger theatrical stage production.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I really am a recluse and if it wasn´t for Kathy I would probably never get out! Anyway, our favorite places are the DMA, The Crow Museum and the Nasher. One of our favorite places to have lunch is The Nasher. Obviously The Modern in Fort Worth is a must see and also a great place for lunch.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Probably my biggest influence was my graduate school years at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. Back then the art department was extremely small and classroom/studio space was literally where ever the school could find it. Some of the graduate studios – mine included – were in an old basketball gym with a golf putting green right behind the gym. The gym had portable walls and the original wooden basketball floor….the basketball hoops were still in place. I was very fortunate while there to have the opportunity to work with Otis Jones, David Conn and the late Harry Geffert. I honestly don´t remember much that was said back then I just remember the incredible work ethic that was shown by these three great artist/instructors. The attitude of all three was basically show up everyday and put in the studio time, everything else will take care of itself. I still think about that a lot today.
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Teresa Rafidi for installation photos