You may recall our fantabulous visit inside Paula Hayes’s studio last year. Well, I knew she was up to something then, but unbeknownst to me, she was already on her journey into her exploration of illumination. After honing her talents in landscape design, glass and resin sculpture, drawing, and botany for several years, she is now integrating illumination. Currently she is lighting up downtown Manhattan with Morning Glory at Salon 94 on the Bowery, and Gazing Globes, a public exhibit in Madison Square Park.
On a bitter, windy afternoon in February, I met up with Paula Hayes on the Bowery to download on her latest installations. Gracious and unaffected as always, she led me into her aurora borealis–inspired landscape of illuminated, acrylic chandeliers. A beautiful, almost meditative green-hued trapeze video with original musical accompaniment greeted me at the gallery’s exterior. The same subtle green light followed me inside the gallery and down the stairwell. We then entered a colorful garden of glowing acrylic trumpet flower chandeliers suspended from steel “vines.” Each one has its own wild yet intentional personality. The steel’s varying heights of bars and hoop shapes were drawn form Paula’s secondary inspiration: trapeze aerialists in mid-flight. She continues to simultaneously master form, function, and concept. A viewer can’t help but have the experience of being pulled inside the colors, textures, and movement of each individual piece, as well as the entire environment itself.
Similarly, I felt like I had entered a fairy tale when I was enveloped in the center of 18 polycarbonate “crystal balls” in Madison Square Park. Paula has spent numerous years creating terrariums containing living botanical environments. Now, she has designed varying-sized globes encompassing everyday, vintage materials and “fairy dust” glitter that illuminate the West Gravel into a magical, winter wonderland. I can gush on and on about Paula’s intended message, fusing human imagination, organic environments, and technology. I mean, really, I could have spent hours at each globe dissecting its inner parts—consisting of items ranging from radio transmitters to acrylic wands—observing the reflections of the surrounding urban landscape, and how each relates to the others. And, it was a stunning site when the sun lowered and the illumination emanating from the fiberglass bases became more apparent. However, what honestly excited me was how all the viewers were participating. Adults were going Insta-crazy, and children were running around actually hugging them. One toddler exclaimed, as she was rubbing a globe, “Looooook into my crystal ball!” I was beyond excited to introduce her to “the lady who made the crystal ball.” The child was totally unamused, and continued weaving in and out of the globes doing her fairy princess dance. Isn’t that, at the end of the day, what art is really about anyway?
On view February 19–March 21, 2015
Salon 94 Bowery
New York City
On view February 19–April 19, 2015
Madison Square Park
New York City