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Cataract Blast, 2016, acrylic on board, triptych, each panel 4’ x 2’.


Don Wilkinson

In anticipation of the early-April opening of “Anatomy of a Small Universe,” an exhibition of works by painter Nancy Hayes at the de Menil Gallery, I visited Hayes’ spacious basement studio in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

Paintings were carefully propped up on makeshift tables of milk crates and cinder block. Clamp-on lights provided illumination to the immaculate space in a good approximation of a gallery setting. While a few of the paintings are singular selfcontained panels, the majority are polyptychs, or multi-paneled works. All are acrylic on medium density fiberboard.

I have long been familiar with Hayes’ ceramics work, in which her subject matter delved into organic forms, objects that rose like tendrils seeking some greater truth from the light. In her transition from the three-dimensional world of ceramics to painting’s two dimensions, Hayes gives nothing up and remains on the same noble path.

That path is divergent. She utilizes one way of understanding the universe — art — to navigate two other major players — science and spirituality. And this marriage of the three proves to be a living nexus of possibilities.

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