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MAC Staff Spotlight: Hayley Hitchens

Please give a warm welcome to our newest Teaching Artist, Hayley! Hayley teaches our Create with the Greats curriculum to K-8th graders. Read more about Hayley's relationship with the arts below:

1. What is your connection to the arts? Are you an artist yourself or do you have a particular interest in the arts?

I don’t think there was any point at which I fully realized I was an artist or I wanted to be one. I think it has been so ingrained into my being that I have taken it for granted. It has been my outlet, my sanctuary, the place I go to synthesize the world, my thoughts, feelings, ideas–it is an extension of myself. I began to rely on it more heavily over the years as different outlets and hobbies, friends, family, towns, states came and went, but I always came back to it in some form or another. In the past few years, I have leaned into it; it has become my means of expression, my way of relating to others, my emotional rock. When I find myself toiling over the most mundane of human problems, I return to my art. It is my home and the place where I can explore my truest self. It is completely vulnerable and terrifying, however it receives me with open, acknowledging arms. Each stroke of paint, each flick of the brush is a step into the unknown.

2. What is your favorite art medium and why is it your favorite?

Currently, my favorite medium is acrylic paint, though I often switch between a wide variety of mediums to influence my art stylistically. I will often switch to the medium I am most comfortable and practiced at when I am experimenting with new mediums or have an “art block”. Truthfully, I hardly thought that I would ever say acrylic paint is my favorite medium. Oil pastels and oil paint were originally two mediums that I preferred, however, my primary reason for favoring acrylic at this point in my career is because it dries fast. I am able to thin the paint and apply many layers within a shorter amount of time then I would if I were painting with oils, this allows me to work efficiently and quickly on just one project or many projects at once.

I greatly admire and am very much inspired by impressionist art and have made efforts to incorporate the style into my own artwork. Acrylic allows me to layer paint colors on top of one another like famous impressionistic painter Claude Monet, allowing me to advantageously layer yellows on reds to create oranges or yellows on blues to create greens, blues and reds to make purples and so forth. Acrylic painting has caused me to work on my color theory knowledge as well to the point where I genuinely prefer to work with only primary colors, deriving all colors I use in a painting from red, blue, yellow, black and white. It causes me to pause, to consider and think, to stay on my toes as a painter; to make mistakes and learn from them; to be a better artist.

3. If you could learn any arts medium, what would it be? Why?

At this point in my career, I feel I have experimented and worked with a majority of art mediums so I would say that two mediums I would be most intrigued to work with would be clay or stone––for pottery or sculpture and collage.

I have always found Hellensitic sculptures to be inspiring. I often find myself in awe of grandiose granite sculptures, the sheer gamble of each strike, seeing the statue in the stone and having the patience to chisel away little by little. I strive for that.

4. What is your favorite part of your job as MAC Gallery Associate?

My favorite part of my job as a MAC teaching artist is inspiring my students and enabling their own creativity and individuality through their art. I try to give my students as much creative freedom as possible so that they can develop their own sense and style as artists. It is my hope that they will carry this throughout their life regardless of whether or not they make a profession out of it. I think creativity is one of the most valuable and important skills to teach our youth as it will provide life-long problem-solving skills.

5. Why do you think the arts are so important right now? The arts provide hope. They tell our history, they show us how when we have struggled as a human-race; through starvation, poverty, war, sickness we have turned to art for hope and refuge. It connects us when words cannot. More than that, each individual is their own artist, carefully crafting their own lives. Problems arise that require solutions. Problem-solving, conflict-resolving skills. People sharing different ideas through their diversified experiences and perspectives would provide not only a sense of cooperation and commonality but also enable us to work together to solve issues far larger than ourselves. I think enabling not just young minds with the ability to think both independently and creatively, but providing that to all individuals in general is integral. The world is all too often disorderly and chaotic and I think art is one of the greatest bedrocks of societies. It is ingrained into who we are, and when we recognize ourselves as being a part of it, whether in the outdoors or at the end of a brush, we find truth. Nature brings peace and harmony, that which we seek and find in art.


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