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Interview with Ivey Hayes, November 2, 2007 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Ivey Hayes, November 2, 2007
November 2, 2007
Interview with artist Ivey Hayes, in which he discusses his background and education, his aesthetic, marketing his work, and his career as an artist.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee:  Hayes, Ivey Interviewer:  Hayes, Sherman / Jones, Carroll Date of Interview:  11/2/2007 Series:  Arts Length  80 minutes


Q: Today is Friday, November the 2nd, 2007 and I'm Carroll Jones with University Librarian Sherman Hayes. We are with the Randall Library Oral History project. We're visiting with artist Ivey Hayes in his studio in Wilmington, North Carolina. He is considered by many to be a master of Southern Nouveau style, and a national treasure. He is a native of southeastern North Carolina. Good morning, Ivey and thank you for letting us visit with you today.

Hayes: Good morning. What an honor, a privilege, and a pleasure to be in your presence today.

Q: Well, thank you. It is ours. Tell us a little bit about your early years. Where are you from originally?

Hayes: Pender County, and that's next door to New Hanover County, And I went to school in Rocky Point, North Carolina, and I grew up in Rocky Point.

Q: We were just talking off camera with your brother and mentioned that you're a really large family. How many folks in this household by the time your parents got done with everybody?

Hayes: Present right now there are six boys and two girls. Our parents are deceased, and so we are a close-knit family, but there are six boys and two girls.

Q: Was this a rural setting that you grew up on a farm, or was it in Rocky Point itself?

Hayes: Rocky Point is an agriculture area. It's rural and so yes sir, in a rural area, yes.

Q: But not on an actual-- your dad wasn't a farmer per se? Or was he-- is that how he made his existence?

Hayes: Yes, he was a farmer but he wore two hats. He was a farmer and he worked in pulpwood. Some people call it logwood. And so yes, we have a farm. We dealt with corn, and potatoes, and peanuts, and things of this nature, and at times when we were taking care of the farm when daddy was out doing another job, working pulpwood, then when he would come home during the evening we would all get together and work, because we raised tobacco too, and that was a source of income for us. So yes, we are certified, I would say, farmers.

Q: One of the reasons I ask that to get the record is that as we talk later about some of the themes, lots of your themes really strike people for their authenticity. I'm hearing the sense that they aren't made up. That's lots of your rural scenes were you, because I have at home, I have one of tobacco pickers and a potato picker and so forth. These are coming really out of your own experience.

Hayes: Right. These are paintings based on real life, life that I've had a part of, and so [inaudible] for me, and also it lets you know where I come from. When we talk about farming, agriculture, that's a big part of my life, and so when I paint there are scenes that reflect this involvement growing up as a child on the farm. These are real experiences that you see in my paintings.

Q: Ivey, how did you evolve from helping out on the farm to find what you enjoy, and then developed your artistic talent and started painting?

Hayes: Believe it or not, when I was very young, 6 or 7 years old, there were relatives that recognized my artistic ability.

Q: In what way?

Hayes: There was something about drawing and art that stood out. It sort of maybe mesmerized people in the sense that the Lord blessed me to be good at it. I remember even as a second grader, I could outdraw the teachers, even as a second grader and I don't ever remember drawing stick figures. We would in second grade, many times we would take field trips like to the train depot and come back and the teacher would put us on the floor, had a group of kids, and the kids would gather around me, and then we had this freezer paper. Remember freezer paper is a long roll and she would roll it out, and we would be on the floor, and I would draw as best I could things that I remember seeing at the train depot. And amazingly, I had a real good memory back then. It plays tricks on me today, but back then it was real good, and so it was amazing the things that I could remember and then was able to draw, but I must say this: as far as the ability to create, it was given to me. I didn't ask for it, beg for it, plead for it. The Lord gave it to me, and so I'm grateful that He smiled on me that way, because it is something that I really enjoy doing.

Q: Were your folks supportive of that? I'm thinking rural North Carolina and the idea of being an artist wouldn't be something we'd all expect. We think it's going to come out of some city instead of the country.

Hayes: I think based on their knowledge of art and it wasn't very much, they were supportive of me, because I enrolled into this-- they enrolled me into this school. There were like in these magazines, I'd draw me pictures and everything, and if you were artistic they would offer you a $500 scholarship or something of this nature.

Q: This is something you did at home, and then-

Hayes: Right.

Q: These were the kinds of things where you draw pictures and send them in, is that it?

Hayes: Right, right. And so in that way they were supportive of me.

Q: I understand you started off by going to NC Central. What did you study there?

Hayes: When I went there in 1966 and enrolled there, the school was named North Carolina College. It didn't change its name until the year I got ready to graduate which was 1970, and it became North Carolina Central. Now, would you ask me again the question?

Q: I was just curious about if you continued with your training, you're talking about art.

Hayes: Okay, let me say this, before entering college there was not any formal training at all.

Q: Let me ask the question, were you forced to go to a segregated school? When you were in Pender County had the schools been desegregated by the time you finished?

Hayes: Believe it or not, the last year that I was there, I graduated in 1966. Prior to that time the school was name Pender County Training School, and in my last year there graduation they changed it to South Pender High, and that was the last year of the existence of that school. After then you could say it was dismantled.

Q: And then they pushed everybody around to different schools and such?

Hayes: Right, that's what happened, because that was the last year of South Pender.

Q: The question I think Carroll was getting to was that so then did the school system even have any art courses that could help you and work with you? Were you able to take good art courses in high school?

Hayes: At one point before entering high school there were-- there was an art teacher, but he had left prior to me going into high school, and so there was never any formal training that I got involved with, so anything that was about art, it happened as a result of enjoyment, we wanted to do, or maybe the teachers recognized a student's ability to do this or that, and they would have that student to draw things or get involved with decorating the blackboard or whatever.

Q: So this evolved into your own style, basically, is that what you're saying?

Hayes: Yes, a good way of putting is that I was given a gift, but I went to college to get it cultivated.

Q: I like that. Were you thinking art when you headed to college, or were you thinking just general curriculum? Any focus at that point when you were heading off to school?

Hayes: Well, tell you the truth, it wasn't until my senior year in high school I realized that I was going to college, and as a result of the guidance counselors there, they kind of talked me into going to college, because I had no idea what I was going to do upon graduation. I mean that was something that I wasn't even thinking about, whether it was service or a job, or college, or whatever. My mind was more or less numb. I was just floating around in the air in a sense, because I didn't know what I was going to do after [inaudible]. And so they suggested "Ivey, you know, you have a lot of talent here. Why don't you go to college?" And so they talked to me and they talked to my parents and lo and behold, I ended up going to college at North Carolina College in Durham.

Q: And that in some sense must have been really a family effort, because there were still a lot of folks at home, weren't there? You're one of the older children of the group?

Hayes: Yeah, I'm the third oldest.

Q: So there still was-

Hayes: Quite a few.

Q: Were you able to get some scholarships to help out?

Hayes: At the time? Let me see. No, but I was on the work-study program but no scholarships. And so it was somewhat difficult then, but because of work-study programs the Lord helped me to get through as far as being able to receive funding for education because my parents didn't have very much money at all, and it was a struggle to pay for tuition and what have you, but we made it.

Q: Did you do like summer jobs and so forth to help out?

Hayes: Yes, sir, I did. My first jobs I had was- I worked at this A&P store for [inaudible] and then another summer job I had was working at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. [inaudible] have a hospital at the time. And so I was an orderly. Oh man, what some experiences [inaudible].

Q: When was that Ivey?

Hayes: During 1966, the summers of 66, and then also the summers of 1967 I got those two jobs.

Q: Yeah, because that was a new hospital at that time.

Hayes: Yeah, matter of fact the hospital wasn't even complete. It wasn't even complete. And so I was there in its early existence.

Q: Tell us about, at that time it wasn't called North Carolina Central. It was called?

Hayes: North Carolina College.

Q: And it was I would guess a little bit different than the high school that you went to as far as size.

Hayes: Oh yeah, like night and day. There was a tremendous difference. It was still a college.

Q: When did you graduate from there?

Hayes: Nineteen-seventy.

Q: Did you go on to Chapel Hill right afterwards, or was there a break in the time?

Hayes: Right after graduation I went to graduate school, but then I taught some. I didn't receive a master's degree until later, and that was at UNC, Greensboro. There was some time in there between graduation with a BA degree and getting the masters. There were other things I got involved with.

Q: So did you come out in art? At that point did you start to say art is going to be it? Or did you try another career path?

Hayes: The fact that I went to North Carolina College as an artist, I felt like that was going to be my involvement for the rest of my life. If I had to make a living, hopefully it would somehow be with art. And so that's why I went to college.

Q: Were you in a studio program or an education program? Many times people had to push you away from you away from studio saying "You can't do anything." So you were prepared to teach art, then?

Hayes: Right. The courses I was taking prepared me to teach, because I had majored in art, and a minor in education.

Q: That's good. I always ask this to folks. Any of those teachers that really made a difference that influenced your future styles and so forth? It doesn't matter if there weren't but sometimes in art, it's really a one-on-one chance for somebody to push you. I'm just curious. Were there any of those that you remember?

Hayes: Outside [ph?] forces probably more important that the teachers, because prior to entering college, I was pretty much ignorant to the art world. To give you an example if we were to mention the name Pablo Picasso prior to finding about him and his importance to society, I felt like anyone that were to purchase a piece of his art was crazy. I just felt like wow, have they lost their mind? There were things I was just ignorant to. I wasn't aware because of lack of education, because of not having training, education exposure. So here again by going to college and beginning to learn about different ones involved with art, I realized that wow, man I've got a lot to learn, and so I began to, believe it or not, even focus on Pablo Picasso. It was very-

Q: Really?

Hayes: Yes. And he was an individual, I thought maybe man, I say wow, I don't understand none of the stuff he's doing.

Q: His art evolved from one level to another. All his life he was changing.

Hayes: Yeah, he was changing.

Q: Most of them, I think, did that in a way.

Hayes: And so it was kind of like fun and kind of like I had to explore this whole new life that I didn't know anything about that I was going to be a part of.

Q: You developed your own style. This is not like anybody else's.

Hayes: Well it took a while to arrive at where I'm at now, but I think at the time when I was in college, it was more or less, I guess exploring self-expression. But even then I wouldn't say that it was with pride [ph?] to say find out who I was because every student, I think, had a eye on somebody else's stuff [inaudible], you know, trying to see what was going on. So I can say that it was a time when I was trying to listen to teachers and trying to do what they would have me to do, and at the same time trying to find out what was going on that they were not telling me.

Q: Who do you think had the most influence as far as an artist or several of them on your work and your style, and your vibrant colors?

Hayes: Are you saying in school?

Q: It doesn't matter whether it's in school or not.

Hayes: I think one person would probably be Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau. Let's see, Thomas Hart Benton.

Q: That's one that I was guessing.

Hayes: Because believe it or not, someone said "Ivey, man, your work looks just like Thomas Hart Benton." I said "What?" "Yeah." So how it was, I went to the library-

Q: Even at that point they asked that question?

Hayes: Yes, I went to the library and I began to-- see I knew about his existence, but I really didn't know about his involvement other than he was an artist. But when I did some research and began to look at some things that he had painted, I had to admit, I said "Man, I could have painted that, because that look like something that I done!" And so it was shocking to see his- the way he did things. If I didn't know any better, I'd say "Man, did I do that or what?" because it looked like something that I did.

Q: He worked in murals. You haven't done much in murals. What strikes me is that even in college then, even though you had to take all the different courses, already you were seeing this kind of style. I mean I'm going to move the camera around and get some of this in the background of figures and color. So that was very early on? Something that you really kind of found for yourself?

Hayes: As far as the colors that people recognize me for today, that didn't come until years later, but there was another person that had a profound influence on me. His name was James Newton [ph?]. As a matter of fact he had went to North Carolina College, but when I met him he was a grad student at UNC Carolina, Chapel Hill, and he had a way of doing things that just mesmerized me. He had a way of using color, he has a way of designing things that was just different, and artistically, he carried a big stick.

Q: What do you mean by that, "...he carried a big stick"?

Hayes: He was someone that you had to recognize whether you wanted to or not because though he was very artistic, he was very smart, very smart, and yet he wasn't your everyday artist. He was very gifted, and if you were to purchase a work of his, if he set a price, say for instance back then a painting was for $300. There was no need for you to say "Well, what about $290, $295?" It was $300. And so either you went along with him, or you just took a trip, and he was that kind of person and so but he had a uniqueness about him that you knew he was going places, and yet there was an [inaudible] about him too.

Q: Really? That's a unique challenge. And you admired him tremendously.

Hayes: Tremendously. I mean big time.

Q: Were there any other artists you felt influenced you particularly? I'm taking a look at the painting right behind you, dead ahead of me. It's a little unusual. It's-- I'm trying to figure out. Are these hands reaching up to somebody holding a bowl of fruit? There's a message to it because it's vibrant and it's saying something, and what it might tell me isn't maybe the meaning that you wanted, so can you tell us about it?

Hayes: I call this "Harvest Queen".

Q: "Harvest Queen."

Hayes: Yes, this is a female person, and what I've done here is to show the involvement of a female person with the harvesting of fruit and vegetables, and this is a way of life. And here in the background where you see things go to a point, these are you might say rows of earth, like you take a tractor and make rows and stuff in the field, but she is more involved with just fruits and vegetables. In order to have a much better life, you see at the bottom there are fish. So you do other things to survive other than just work on a farm. There are several things that you have to get involved with to make life normal, and so because your tastes do vary. You want more than just fruits and vegetables. And so here again, and you see this stick that's to the left there. That's a way of supporting the body when the body feels like it don't want to go. It's like a crutch. And so life feels like that way too. So often we do things and your body get worn and get tired, and you feel like man, I just can't make it. And so you have to have some people have to use medicine, and so he or she is using this stick as a crutch to help her do what she has to do, because it's not easy. And the hands are fixed in such a way so that she is wrapped, she's wrapping this bow within her possession because this is, this is her, I would say, domains because she is in charge of her life, and what goes into this life is either going to be bad or good, and in most cases in life, in order to appreciate the good, you're going to have some bad in there. And so what it is, these hands, it symbolizes her efforts to help make that decision on the good and the bad, and to embrace it as well.

Q: Let me ask you something. On all of your work, but this one that you just spoke of, when you started that, did you set out to do precisely what you just described? Or did it come-- it was a work in progress?

Hayes: Let me say this. In any painting that I do today, I start off with an idea, only an idea, because from that point I'll never know what it's going to evolve into. The painting takes me. I don't take it. It leads me and the color, the composition, and sometimes it may go through a process. What I'm saying is that when I say "the painting takes me" I become a student and I become a teacher all at the same time. But I know when the painting is finished. I know when it's a failure. I know when it's a mess.

Q: Do you really know when it's a mess?

Hayes: Yes, yes.

Q: On the other hand, do you know when you've succeeded?

Hayes: Yes, I know when it's finished. When I say now when the Master Teacher shows up, you could say that's the spirit of God that dwells in me. He allows me to mess around and get involved with this and that, but when He shows up, it's all business. And so at that point, whatever it is that is unclear, or whatever, then the picture begins to come, or the image or whatever, becomes clear, then I understand now what has taken place and I know when it is finished. And I know when the painting is lacking some element there that needs to be strengthened or needs to be included there to make it a success. I used to ask people what do you think about this? What do you think about that? Today, I don't do that. If I were to ask someone "What do you think about this?" or "What do you think about that?" It's for whole different reasons. It's not for the reasons they think I'm asking. It has nothing to do with what they think I'm asking. It's beyond that. I may not tell them but it is not what they think. When I say "What do you think about this color?" or this or that, it has nothing to do with what they think I'm asking.

Q: Can you give us an example? If you asked Mr. Sherman what he thinks of that vibrant magenta, and he said "Well, I don't know. It's too bright or it's too dark," it doesn't matter to you [inaudible].

Hayes: Okay, I'll make it a little bit simpler. Say here's a cabbage and it looks like there are images of fish, okay? Because it's a shape of a fish, and it kind of looks like a fish, he may think that I'm dealing with fish. But I could be totally dealing with color and it has nothing to do with fish. Fish is just a vehicle, the shape of it, to arrive at what I-

Q: But Ivey, in a sense, you're doing the art for yourself, and you've gotten to a comfort level that this is about what you want to do, but if another person buys it for what they see in it, that's okay too, isn't it?

Hayes: Sure, that's okay.

Q: That's what I'm saying. We all interpret the work differently, and you do some monarch [ph?] figures. Even though you've mentioned Picasso, you're not an abstract artist. I don't know how you would classify yourself today.

Q: It's not even primitive [ph?]. This is-

Hayes: Picasso [inaudible] in time in terms of involvement, because what you see today is not by accident. Let me explain, when you see these vibrant colors or whatever. The Lord gave me this. Prior to getting into color, He would show me paintings sometimes three or four paintings, and they were usually of the female figure, and the female figure he used was a silhouette, black in color with no facial features, but they were usually draped with long flowing gowns full of geometric shapes, full of light moving, sweeping. It blew me away. And because I had never seen anything like this that had such a profound power over me, and then I would see images. It didn't matter if I was asleep or awake, if I was driving, if I was sitting on the couch, or lying down or whatever. When it was time for me to see things I saw things. And then I began to, he began to show me cloth like I've never seen before. Oh man, patterns that, oh man, and then sculpture. So that prior to showing me these things He has a way of letting you know what He's going to do before He do it, if He intends you to do something. And so for five to six years, prior to getting into color, I cried like a baby, because I didn't want to do what He wanted me to do. Prior to that, I was in water colors. I did very realistic paintings, and I felt like at the time there's wasn't too much I couldn't do in water color, because I was very comfortable with it. But when He saw that it was time for me to change, because I got to do what He want me to do, not what I want to do. But anyway, because I didn't want to do it for five or six years, you can say I was working through barriers or whatever, so but He had patience with me. He waited on me and even though I got mad many times, and got upset. He still was patient with me, and so what happened was he would allow me to, you know, normal process of say painting a portrait maybe complete it to maybe 60 percent. The other 40 percent that would finish it, it was like I couldn't remember how to do anything. My mind went totally blank. I could not function. It was like what is this? I mean wow. And this happened time after time after time after time. So I got the message. When it's time and He say it's time, oh, He'll let you get upset, get mad, pout first, but you got to still do what He wants you to do. So what you see happening now is a result of obedience after I stopped being disobedient.

Q: How long a period did this take, your evolution to finally recognize that another higher power had really control of you and it was reflected in your work? I mean you were being told about the work, from what you say.

Hayes: Well, the Lord has been my life for a long time, and He was my life prior to this experience. It took I don't know how to say it. I'll tell you what. Ask me another question.

Q: I have a question. We missed a small element. One of the highest levels of advanced degrees in art called an MFA from UNCG. We ran by that.

Q: Yeah, I think we were going to go back to it but you're right. Tell us about that.

Hayes: Yeah, I received a master's in 1975 UNC, Greensboro. And I had a wonderful experience with all the students that were there. And then one student there that he had a way with colors that really made you pay attention to his involvement. His name was Robert T. Latham [ph?] I think if I remember his name correctly. And in a small way he had an influence on me but not in a real super way but say in a minor way. And when I think about it, there has been so many people that's had a part in my life, a role to play as far as being where I'm at now, so it's not just one person or two people or whatever. I would say it's so many, so many, that maybe I can't even count them, because maybe the role they played was just a small part. Maybe it had to deal with design, or maybe another person it had to deal with a certain look or image or something. So when I look at it that way, there's been many people get where you see me now; without question, this is the Lord's work. So what you see me involved with now is not by accident, and that's why I come-- I can tell you things now or answer questions now about the completion of a work that before when He wasn't manifested like He is now in my life, I couldn't do that. I would have to say ask someone "What do you think about this?" or "What do you think about that?" But today I don't do that. If I ask you it has nothing to do with what you think I'm asking. Nothing at all.

Q: Your people have no features in their faces. Is that on purpose?

Hayes: Yes.

Q: Obviously it's on purpose, but what's the meaning? Is it just because it's not necessary? They're only incidental?

Hayes: Okay, I'm going to take you back in time, then we're going to move fast forward. Don't forget now, the Lord showed me as I mentioned these female figures and they were all black in silhouette; they had no features. Now, I remember going to-- I was a part of this festival, and this lady came up to me and she said "Mr. Hayes, I like that painting there, but I wouldn't buy it." So I said "Why?" "Because it's not my face." A light goes off. I said okay, okay. Now I'm beginning to understand more about the figure when there's no features there, because now the image become a universal person whereby you can put your own face there, because if this person is harvesting potatoes, many people done the same thing. Or if they're picking blueberries, many people done the same thing. So here now instead of trying to be an individual or a particular person, it becomes a universal figure, because many people have done the same type of activity or got involved in the same type of experience, and so it makes sense to me. Believe it or not I think people would rather see the face absence of features, because then they can put their own face in there.

Q: They can project themselves there.

Hayes: The reason why I use black, not only because it was shown to me, but in terms of color, black will fit in and white will fit in just about any color that you have, so it works. It's not that I'm about painting black people. It's more about color than people, because see the black color itself-- it's a neutral but I'm going to consider it to be a color in my involvement, because of the black it helps me to move into areas, into dimensions that otherwise if I try to use another color I would have a problem with.

Q: I wanted to ask you about the subject matter because you've come to this particular style, and you and I have talked over time about different subjects. You may not know from the style, but you're always exploring another kind of venue of subject. What are some of your favorites over time? I know you were very proud of the Native American series that you did, and the rural settings. But some of these others are almost an Africa theme. Are there favorites that you have over time?

Hayes: I think what is happening is a process of maturity has taken place in terms of what I feel to be of importance in life, and so no, it's almost like I want to paint everything that's lovely, that gives me joy and has a uniqueness about it. To give an example, you take a blade of grass. There was a time when I would look at that grass as being a supportive part of a painting that was not very important, but it helped support the painting in terms of what it was I was trying to portray; but today I have a profound respect for grass, the blade of grass, of flowers. Everything now to me becomes important, whereas before I was very selective. But now there is so much that has become important to me. I want to almost paint everything because I've become-

Q: Aware.

Hayes: Well, what I paint. As I said, the painting takes me; I don't take it. Okay, now, for instance, if I'm painting flowers, as I paint a flower I begin to feel like that flower. If I'm painting a bird I feel like a bird, so it's taken me-- in other words, I'm going on a journey, a trip, and it's fun. And so like for instance if I'm doing a scene of a football game. I have problems with my feet, and never will be able to play football based on what has happened to me now, but the fact that I'm able to paint football players in action and have a sense of group strength or whatever, it helps me to be what they are. And so I'm becoming involved with so many things, and it's good, because I think one of the worst things in life is a person to feel sorry for themselves, and so in spite of my disability, I have fun. Why I have fun? Because there's so many things I can enjoy. I paint a ballerina, I feel like I'm moving, you know?

Q: So you can lose some weight if you paint just the right figure as this could be a new technique that we could market.

Hayes: [inaudible]

Q: I could use that. I see what you're saying.

Hayes: It gives me joy because there is so much to life that we maybe take for granted or not even realize that are at our fingertips to make us feel so much better about ourselves, that we don't even realize exist because we all on the fast track, and we are always thinking about this or that, instead of stopping and slowing down, and saying wow, then be grateful and thankful for what we have, and just enjoy that which has been a part of my life always, but yet we look at it as being just there, but of little value or little importance.

Q: You brought up the disability angle and many people will be reading the transcript instead of seeing this, and they won't notice that your hands are starting to be curling, I guess is the word. Is that an arthritis function? Do you know what it is?

Hayes: It's rheumatoid arthritis. It's a crippling disease.

Q: And you're still painting like crazy. You're still working fine?

Hayes: Let me say this, there is more to my hands than what you see. To explain what's here, the spirit of God lives in my hands. Believe me. He lives in my hands, but He lives in my body as well. But here again, I'm not only an artist, but I'm a musician also, and even though you see my hands and you would say "Wow, man, this guy got big time problems," but even today I still play the keyboard, and I still paint. So you're looking at life from that point of view, you will have to say "Wow, I didn't think nobody could really do that, and still have like a normal life." And so here again when it comes to my hands and what have you, it's a challenge, yes, but with the Lord's help I'm fine, I'm okay.

Q: Just listening to you has been enlightening. Do you ever do inspirational speaking in front of groups, particularly young people?

Hayes: I have been to quite a few schools to talk about my artwork, and seem everywhere I've been we had a real good time with the students, but not only with the students, but with the teachers too, because I purposely help to make their day a better day because one thing I usually do when I go out to these schools, on all different grade levels, on different levels, I usually give away prints of my work and different things to make it more enjoyable. Because the Lord is my life, but he made people to be my joy, so I enjoy people and it doesn't matter their age factor or nationality or whatever. I just enjoy people and try to make them have a better day. Even if I'm not having a good day, I try to make them have a better day than they're having.

Q: Let me ask you about part of your success that's tied around marketing. We've interviewed so many artists, and it's a challenging world to get your art out and have people purchase it and use it. And through many, many, many years and many, many venues you seem to be successful at this point, but you've been willing to try lots of different methods. I don't know if that was a practical family but you've done the small prints; you've done the large prints. I mean you and I were even telling stories about weren't you on one of the home shopping-

Hayes: Oh sure.

Q: Networks which is great. Carroll, I don't know if you've ever seen his really wonderful, is it a cutting board?

Hayes: It was a cutting board.

Q: I have one at home. It's just wonderful. It was one of his great colored paintings that he had a company work to make as a cutting board, and every time I use it, I just really enjoy it for the art. I mean it's a good cutting board, but it was the art that-- Is it family that did this? Is it just trial and error? I would consider you an excellent promoter for your own art, for all artists, not just your own. Where did that all come from?

Hayes: I think as far as marketing, it's probably a combination of quite a few things. Not any one particular thing, but some things that stand out to facilitate this would be persistence. You have to first of all believe in what you're doing, and hopefully in that process of wanting people to know about you, you would hope to have in your corner people who believe in you, and people who are willing to go that extra mile with you. But I think in my case there were some that were, and there were probably more that went the opposite way, but because of the love for art itself, and a driving need that I would want to be the best that I could be, I think because of that, in spite of failure, in spite of difficulty and what have you, that was just a stepping stone to dry my tears and keep on going. I believe that if you do something long enough, you're supposed to get better with it. I mean-

Q: [inaudible]

Hayes: I was at this festival one year and this lady was in her booth and she just crocheting away, and she just selling stuff. I said "Ma'am, tell me your secret." And so what she did, she had these bins and she had prints in there that was different prices. One was maybe a certain size and she had a certain price on that, then a larger print was another size and another price, and so she just crocheting away and people did buy her stuff. I paid attention because she was next door to me, I paid attention. And so we became friends, and so as a result of that, God allow you to see things to help you. I think from that point on, it made a difference in how I would present my artwork to the general public, because prior to that I was involved with prints, but I would have them laid out in such a way on tables and everything that a strong wind came by, they were gone. But I took it farther than the method that she was using. Because even though people would see my work, you would thought that I was a disease, because they were standing back and kind of like looking over a fence and saying "Oh yeah, I like that. That's good. That's beautiful, I like that." And yet at the same time, they didn't want to come into my booth area, but they were staying outside of the space and kind of looking over at us and saying "Yeah, I like that." And so the Lord gave me an idea which was to-- people love getting stuff free, even today. A housewife go to a grocery store or whatever, they buy stuff even though they don't need it, they're getting it free.

Q: Two for one.

Hayes: Right, and so what happened was there was eight images that I painted and put into smaller prints, so what happened was I would have prints in these bins and everything, and then when a person would come in and buy a certain size print they would get a free small print of their choice, and they had eight selections of images to choose from. And so as a result of that, people now would come into my booth space because they were getting something free. And believe it or not, I still use that method or a similar method today, because it works. People love getting stuff free. And so it worked then, it will work now. I may have like you buy two and get the third one free.

Q: One of the things that I've always been pleased with, even as your originals now of course are extremely expensive-- not extremely expensive, are expensive and you've worked in [inaudible] you still said "I try to produce art that lots of people can afford." I appreciate that. I have some of your work. And many artists may use some of your techniques, and then they run away off in to the stratosphere, but I appreciate that you continue to make your work available. And I hope you're proud of that because that's a good thing.

Hayes: Like I said, people, they're my love, they're my joy. And I try to put myself in another person's place, and so what I try to do is to try to have something for everyone, even for those who do not have the means to purchase, because I do give away a lot of art to people that don't even have the means to purchase, and so people to me are precious jewels. They're very important to me, and you're not going to handle something that's real precious any kind of way. And so it's a joy and a privilege for me just to be in a person's presence, because you're never-- take a child for instance. What an awesome opportunity to be in a child's presence because that child one day could be a president. That child one day could, God could use that child in such a way that could change the course of society. So here again, everybody is important, regardless of what you may think about them, they are still important, and so I look at to be in somebody's presence, man, what an awesome opportunity. What a privilege. What a joy. What-- oh man, it is fantastic. And so people to me are fantastic, and I honor them greatly.

Q: We're coming to the end of-

(tape change)

Q: This is tape two with Sherman Hayes, University Librarian, Carroll Jones, interviewing Ivey Hayes in Wilmington, North Carolina. Can you tell us a little bit more about some of the things that you've accomplished? Tell us first of all about the Capital of Rotunda, an exhibit in the Capital of Rotunda, was that in Washington D.C.?

Hayes: Yes it was.

Q: Can you talk about it?

Hayes: Sure.

Q: I know the Capital Rotunda well, and I'm trying to picture how this exhibit evolved, how you were chosen and what went on.

Hayes: Representative, Mr. Martin Lancaster along with Ms. Joyce Harrel, who I think is a pillar in the community in Pender County as far as the Art Guild, they were involved in selecting art work to be displayed at the Capitol Rotunda. And so, what happened was they had asked me to bring a couple paintings at the Beer Garden, and have well congressional person, Mr. Martin Lancaster, look at them and select a person to have an exhibit there at the Rotunda. So, what happened was they saw my work and they fell in love with it and so that's how that started. But, as a result of having an exhibit there, I met a lot of congressional people, a lot of people that I had only seen on TV but now I got a chance to meet them in person.

Q: So you went up for the big exhibit, and then they fell in love with you work?

Hayes: Yes, and it was a fairly large exhibit and...

Q: When was this?

Hayes: I think it was back in 1990, and so what happened was the type of art work that I was involved in it has some of the Cubist influence, but it dealt with a whole lot of geometric shapes and patterns, a lot of them and it dealt with the American native as well but in a different way. And if you were to see images of their exhibit then-- now there was a mixture of what realism and this sort of things too. But if you were to see images of the Native American, I figured I'd use along with all these patterns and everything, I think you would be pretty much surprised because the involvement was so intricate and similar patterns, I mean, well all over the place, full of color. I mean it was something else.

Q: I can imagine.

Hayes: And so, I met a lot of congressional people and other people there as well, and so it was a wonderful, wonderful experience for me to have been a part of, and so...

Q: And how long were these paintings displayed up there?

Hayes: I think it was around for a month, I think. I think about a month.

Q: Were you ever asked as a result of that to exhibit some of your work in one of the museums in D.C.?

Hayes: I gave a little show up in there, but I'm trying to think if it was a result of this. It may not have been a result of this showing, but I've had another showing up in the area as well, and...

Q: The Hershorn [ph?] comes to mind.

Hayes: No, I didn't, I didn't, I was never contacted by them or have I had any dealings with them, and so but...

Q: Your work is held in many of the North Carolina museums. I know in Cameron you'd have a show about a year ago, wasn't it?

Hayes: Yeah, yes.

Q: That was a great show.

Hayes: Well it was an exhibit of five artists that was involved there and it gave me a chance to have an exhibit with Ms. Amelia Evans, who was a relative and others as well. There's Mr. Romere Buelean [ph?] who is deceased now and there was this lady who was, I think it was in quilting or something like that, but there was five of us exhibiting as a group showing at the museum there.

Q: I wanted to ask you about fairs, and festivals. When you were a struggling artist, you chose to use this method, but you still do this. Why do you go and do this? I want the people listening to understand the importance of this way to sell art at fairs, markets and everywhere, right?

Hayes: Well, but let me say this. I'm still struggling [inaudible], but, I mean, you know, life is a struggle, you know. But as far as like the festivals, um, take the Blueberry Festival for instance, now, that's my back door, okay? And here again, people, they have a profound meaning in my life. You all are precious in my life, and to be a part of the Blueberry Festival, it's like it works hand in hand with me in terms of a success. I'm giving back to the community because they're precious to me, and yet at the same time, because they enjoy what I'm doing they reciprocate in the sense that they purchase things. And so it's like if you've got a tight fisted hand, nothing can get in or get out. See, if you want something to come you've got to give in order to receive. And so, with me, I've been a giver as far as I can remember and I give all the time. I even tried to stop giving one time, and they, and when I, like I thought something was wrong with my brain or something because I was giving so much. And when I stopped I said I'm not going to do it no more and when I said that I got worse. So, I was a natural giver, and so I don't fight it. I just give so much, and so, so here again, a success has a lot to do with giving believe it or not. And so, but it has to be honest. It has to be in a true sense. It can't be something that you barter or you have a ploy to try to use somebody or whatever. But I'm a natural giver in the sense that I love making people happy. And to give them images of things I've done, well this is way of letting them share the joy that the Lord has given me. And so, if there is a basis as far as success in marketing or whatever, believe me, it's tied with in giving.

Q: You do commercial marketing through some stores, or outlets. Who chooses the pieces to be recruited? Have you ever been asked specifically to work for a particular corporation or for commission work?

Hayes: Okay, as far as who decides on what images to be selected or shown, well ultimately it's me. Okay, I have the final decision. And when it comes to commissions, today I try not to get involved with that. And the reason for that is I've found out people are hard to satisfy. And, it seems like no matter how much you dedicate yourself and you can give your very best, and can't give no more, but they can still make it difficult for you in the process. And so, I found out that if, unless it's done the Ivey Hayes way and I have free range, but then I don't want to get into commissions because people can be naturally a pain.

Q: Everybody has an opinion don't they?

Q: Art is different things to different people.

Hayes: You know, and one thing I've found out, today a person could make one, commission someone to do a work and their situation financially is very good. And then by the time their work is complete, say if it took a little while, maybe a couple of months or whatever and then their situation changes, well then, as to whether I've beat it out the bush or to prolong the process, they're going to make up this, make up that, and say well, you know, all this is fine. I like all this here, but could you do something with the right here? This area look better, or whatever. And now, you have done your best and now you want to be compensated for what you've done, but because the situation changed they make it hard on you, which, you know, instead of being honest and just tell it like it is they make it hard on you. And so as a way of not getting involved in a whole lot of painful experiences, where people, don't do it.

Q: I think one of your successes by being willing to go on the various festival circuits, is that people like to meet an artist. It adds value.

Hayes: You know, usually people, they have to separate business from pleasure. But, when I'm in the field out there at a festival, you have to learn to know when it's good to do the two together because the same people that is purchasing are going to be the same people that are going to want to talk to you. And so, the thing that I do is I allow myself to be available for the two and because I enjoy, first of all, talking to the people, so it's not a hardship on me. Okay, and so, and so the thing about it is that I have fun. You know, I take a business experience and make it fun, and make it fun. I mean, you know, instead of saying all business, why can't you have fun with the business, because I enjoy meeting people and not only that, when the kids want to talk to me too, what you going to do? Are you going to say could you come back when the show is over with and let me talk to you? They may be on a schedule. They cannot do that. But here am I. I mean, like if I want them to support me, I've got support them. It's like, you have to be available, and so with me it's not a hardship because I enjoy people and because they are precious to me, it's a joy.

Q: I wanted to ask you about exhibits outside of North Carolina. Where have you had some exhibits? The biography on you that I read, said that you have had them all over the United States. Do you find if you go outside the South or North Carolina, with your kind of art, that people have an understanding of it? Are they quizzical? Do they accept it as somebody here might? What kind of response do you get?

Hayes: I've been places that people carried me to that wasn't even there but they carried me there.

Q: Give a name.

Hayes: Okay, for instances, like up in the New England states, people have taken my art work and created shows for me.

Q: You didn't have to go to that show?

Hayes: I didn't necessarily have to be there.

Q: That's all right. Yes, that's two different levels. You can do a show...

Hayes: And just like also, like there are 43 countries outside of America here that people have taken my work and exhibited.

Q: What a treat...

Hayes: Yes. Also, I mean, you know, I don't try to put myself on no pedestal. It's hard for me to try to- am I putting on a pedestal, because I usually, really wait when they try to put me on a pedestal. That's something I usually try not to talk about. But, when it comes to awards and things of this nature, in the past there's been so many shows I've been a part of, that now it doesn't really mean that much to me because, I'm not about trying to...

Q: Are you saying the awards don't mean that much to you?

Hayes: Well, I'm saying they were good in that particular time, timeframe. They were good. But like today I'm not about awards. I'm not about trying to achieve awards. That's the furthest thing from my mind.

Q: What matters to you today?

Hayes: Okay, what matters to me today is doing the will of God and working in his will, because he is my life, but he's made people to be my joy. And when people want to put me on a pedestal, and they say, Ivey, you've done this and that I need to let them know that it's not me. It's Him. It's not me. And some things that people want to put on me, I will not accept because I know the truth. And when I say that when the Master shows up when I'm painting, I mean, it's all about Him. It's not about me. And so it's like, I mean like you see some awards over there. And sure, I mean I've gotten the Order of Martin Luther King Award from the governor and stuff. They're okay but I'm not about that. Now, those awards can be given if you want to follow somebody's tracks where they been, okay. But as far as what's important to me is doing the will of God and doing what He would have me to do. And if somebody were to interview me and if they were not to, don't want me to let them know that it's God who's enabled me to do this, well then I would tell them, then well I'm the wrong person for them to come and interview me or to talk to me, because He is my life and that's where I have the success I have today, He's what is causing it and not me and I understand that.

Q: You really aren't interested in discussing whatever awards you've received?

Hayes: I mean, I can talk about them, but it's for me to prop myself up.

Q: We want them for the historic record that other people have recognized.

Hayes: Well, let's talk about some of them then. Let's talk about some of them, because I don't want you here, to be here _____.

Q: I know your brother, Phillip, is that the one we me?

Hayes: Yes, Phillip.

Q: Is that the one we met before?

Hayes: Yes.

Q: Phillip is extremely involved in the changing technologies. You very early on recognized that as an important new medium. Talk a little bit about that, because it is fairly new.

Q: Not everybody wants to use it, because they're afraid of it. They think it takes away from the integrity of the original. But at the same time, if they're smart they realize that from a commercial point they can give somebody almost a complete likeness to the original.

Hayes: Right, it's my understanding that this is the closest thing to the likeness of the original, and that's where I come out [inaudible] because of the archival inks. I think that's probably becoming more and more important today.

Q: Your primary medium is acrylic on canvas, right?

Hayes: Right, yes sir.

Q: When you were into a print, which you avoid good prints, and you have better prints, and you have really good prints. You still don't have that tacto canvas, right? You're able to sell and give somebody the physicality that you wanted. It's still not the original, but it's very close with the texture.

Hayes: Let's go back a little back here. Remember when I met you that when people first began to look at my art work, when I began to be a part at ______ circuit, go to these festivals, and people looked at me as a disease when they would stand back, and look over, and say oh, [inaudible] [inaudible]. You look at that, then you compare that with what is happening today with people. It's like night and day in terms of response, in terms of attitude that people have toward me today. And, I think here again, it's all because of, one thing is the way of presentation, how you present yourself to the general public. And if you can present yourself to the general public but be real and honest with yourself, and just be who you are, and give a good account of who you are, I think you'll have a good chance of being successful if you persevere and are willing to accept that the knocks, the hardships, whatever it takes to survive and so. But here again, you remember when I mentioned that the Lord gave me the idea about people love getting things free. Now believe me, it's the same principal that Wal-Mart, K-Mart and all these other stores uses too. The car dealerships, I mean, you know, they give you free interest and all this other kind of stuff, a long time- and so, there are certain things that I pay attention to as well. And if you can apply that which works, that's been proven to be a fact, but in an honest way, I think it gives you more of a chance to or more options to be successful and so, here again, I'm not about tricking people, or fooling people or messing with people. I'm about making people happy and wanting them to enjoy, be a part of that, which God has given me and so, it's fun. And so, when I meet somebody, I mean, I take time and talk with them. It's fun. I mean like what opportunity? It's fun. And so, maybe how I do things may be a little different, or maybe people don't have time for people. But, if you want people to have time for you, you've got to take time for people.

Q: You're making your work available to more people this way. They couldn't afford to buy your pieces. Is that what you're saying really?

Hayes: Sure.

Q: You're giving them, "the masses," the general public, those who understand art and what speaks to them can own one of your pieces. They don't have to buy an original.

Hayes: Right, I mean, you know, like I try to put myself in a situation whereby regardless of your income situation there's a good possibility that you can own something that enlightens you or gives you joy in terms of am image by Ivey Hayes. And so I don't- it don't, you know, if they ride is not broken down, then don't try to-

Q: You don't want to fix it.

Hayes: Yeah, right. I don't want to break it down and then make them try to re-fix it.

Q: Do you find enough time to paint? That's always a tension, right? You do the circuit, talk to people, work on business. Do you feel that you have enough time to paint?

Hayes: Well, you have to make time. There are times when I may not paint maybe two, three weeks. And you can say, well I do it all, but I see, and all I've heard and what I've seen, you must paint night and day. Nope. What happens is, when I do paint, I paint. And so, in spite of my hands being like they are, my hands may not give me as much problem as you think they would give me based on their appearance and so, it's like my feet give me more problems than my hands. And so being a prolific painter, maybe, just maybe now, if a person is, say there's two people, me and another person, and there's a canvas that's a 30 by 40. If it takes me say, three hours to do what I want to do on this canvas, and a person doing the same thing and it takes them three days okay, now are you getting a sense of how I'm able to move within a space?

Q: Tell us your connection with Minnie Evans.

Hayes: Yes, she's a relative. Now, I've never had a chance to have a conversation with her, but she is a relative. I remember very distinctly how the other relatives use to talk about her a lot when I was coming up. As a matter of fact, even about a mile from where I live there is a monument erected in her honor. And right across this field there used to be a log cabin where she used to live and that was many, many years, years ago. And so, but I have been just as good ____________ relative and we would just sit down and talk about her and how we was all relatives and everything and so I know _________.

Q: Have you ever met Frankie, her son?

Hayes: I have met some of the family members. I met some of the family members, but to know the names per say no, but I met some of the members on some occasion where the family got to know what is in their mother's honor. But as I said, you know, I know of her and the relatives how we use to talk about her, but to say we have personal contact with her, no.

Q: Do you have any big things coming up, any exhibits, any pieces, any fairs, anything in the future?

Q: What's left for Ivey Hayes?

Hayes: Okay, I plan to make a trip to Seagrove, you know, part of the festival there. But of course I'm not a part of, but I'm going to be involved with amateurs. And then after that I plan to be a part of the local scene here, which is the Flotilla in Wrightsville Beach on Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving weekend and beyond that, no. I don't have any fairs.

Q: Well, this has been fascinating and I thank you for letting us come visit you. We have learned a lot, and what else can I say? I'm sitting in front of a Master.

Q: We wish you well, and we really do thank you for sharing your philosophy, and background.

Hayes: There's a lot of things that, it's just like, you take my hands. I mean, what more a person, I think what they know about disabilities, you know, even if it is very little, if they were to look at my hands and say, now that guy has a hard time trying to do whatever it is he is going to do with his hands. But, don't let the appearance of my hands fool you. There is more to my hands than what meets to eye. They may be crippled, but if you notice I am still painting and you probably could say faster than the average painter. And beyond that I'm a musician and I play for more than one choir. I used to play for four choirs, but I play for two choirs in the church, I mean even now, even with the look of my hands. So here again, I have a lot to be thankful for. But I have to know, and I don't mind letting people know, who is responsible for me to be able to do this in spite of appearances.

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