An artwork that is a living breathing composition; constantly in flux; changing ever so subtly, mesmerising its owner with its sheer beauty – yes, Paula Hayes weaves her magic with plants, crystals, fish and glass to create vivariums that not only titivate your drawing room but start a conversation there – with you.
“The garden has become an all encompassing metaphor for a life of plenitude.” This principle is what drives Paula Hayes, a New York artist and landscape designer in both her work and life. Paula, a Master of Fine Art and Sculpture from the Parsons School of Design, New York, NY has been on the art scene for over two decades. Principally a landscape designer she has created private gardens in such diverse topographies as the eastern end of Long Island, the Pacific Northwest and the mountainous environs of Santa Fe, using only native plantings for sustainability and in her continuous effort towards protecting the environment.
Over the last several years, she has diversified and brought into the mainstream of her body of work the creation of sophisticated vivariums.
Vivariums (terrariums and aquariums) essentially are an enclosed area meant for keeping and raising animals or plants for observation or research. Often, a portion of the ecosystem with in-built controls for environmental conditions for a particular species is simulated on a smaller scale. A vivarium may be small enough to sit on a desk or table; it is this convenience that she offers the millions of space-strapped dwellers of cities who yearn for a spot of green, but are unable to indulge themselves solely on the premise of a severe lack of legroom.
Creating cute-as-a-button, bite-sized fragments of a living, breathing forest which she houses in organically shaped hand blown glass, she tantalises and attracts people with her craft until they are driven to own one, which they can call their own. So passionate is she of the terrariums and aquariums she creates that she asks her clients to co-sign an agreement wherein she, the creator, and the new owner, or caretaker, agree to take full responsibility for keeping the work alive!
Much like creating a ship-in-a-bottle, terrarium building takes a small, dexterous hand, a collection of minute tools and a keen interest in miniature plant life and a clever composition.
For her glass containers Paula takes inspiration from varied areas; whilst watching the mating of leopard slugs on Youtube with her son she went ahead and had similar forms hand blown to create a new series of organically shaped one-of-a-kind terrariums.
A perfect solution for bringing in a bit of the outdoors, literally into your palm, Paula creates these Lilliputian little tropical worlds using the energies of innovation and exploitation; these are in a constant struggle between objects that straddle the line between the animate and the inanimate. She likes nothing better than to pore over her plant encyclopaedia researching which specimens she will next seek out to create these magical microcosms.
Her latest ‘baby’ or ‘babies’ are crystals; creating mesmerising compositions with them she feels these are better for those not born with a green thumb – being a little more difficult to kill than plants.“Meteors! Dynamism! What’s not to love?” she’ll tell you excitedly, pointing to the heat of their impact as the “miraculous transmutation of life.” The crystal terrariums are supposed to be bathed in the light of a full moon to help them emit their positive vibes; she conveniently provides a calendar listing all the full moons in the coming five years!
Referring to Paula’s work when she last showed it at MomA (museum of modern art, NY), Ann Temkin, chief curator of MomA’s department of painting and sculpture, aptly described it as – “It’s people-friendly art – you don’t need a Ph.D. in art or history to get it; it’s about crossing borders – animate, inanimate – a way to add life to a particular space – in an oddly sensuous way.”
The acclaimed artist will now share never-before-seen or published material in her first monograph ‘Paula Hayes’ which will be published by The Monacelli Press in April 2012. Paula Hayes work Land Mine can currently be seen at New York’s Lever House where the exhibit has just been extended until April 27, 2012.