Rachael Hayes

Rachael Hayes
Major: BFA concentrating in Sculpture & Ceramics


Hometown

Winston-Salem, NC


High School

Forsyth Middle College


If you were a transfer student, from where did you transfer?

Forsyth Technical Community College


Major(s)

BFA concentrating in Sculpture & Ceramics


Career Plans & Goals

I would like to attend Graduate school to get an Interdisciplinary degree in sculpture and social practice. After graduate school, I would love to work at an arts organization, museum, or gallery, focusing on strengthening communities and making art more accessible. I would also like to continue my own artistic practice, and find ways to help others and bring them together through the work I do.


Activities:

Cooking, hiking & backpacking, weightlifting, spending time with my friends and loved ones (and my dog, Phoebe, and cat, Ava), reading, yoga, gardening, creating art – my favorite being creating metal sculptures, and going to museums and galleries to look at art as much as possible.


Why did you choose UNCG and specifically UNCG for the Arts?

When I was attending community college, I was actually on a business path because I thought it was the most practical option. I had always loved and been passionate about art, and after taking a couple art classes as electives at Forsyth Tech, and being encouraged by my professors and loved ones, I decided to pursue a degree in art. I chose UNCG’s art program because I had heard many good things about it from various people that I know. I also did my own research into the program and what they had to offer, and was very impressed with the program.


Are you where you thought you’d be when you first came to campus?

I don’t think anyone ever ends up exactly where they “thought they’d be” – life is so full of unexpected changes that we can never really plan for the future. When I started at UNCG, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, and I felt like I was making a risky decision going into the arts, but I was still excited about it. I never thought that I would end up majoring in Sculpture & Ceramics, and minoring in Social Practice (I didn’t even know what Social Practice art was). I feel that attending this program, finding my passion for sculpture and social practice, and the tremendous support, encouragement, and guidance from my professors, got me to a place where I feel confident pursuing a career in the arts, and have been able to figure out what I want to do next.


Peak experience?

I can’t really pinpoint an exact experience that was the best for me – but I honestly feel that the best part of UNCG were the amazing professors I had. I really can’t express how much they have helped me, not only as an artist but as a person. It’s truly incredible to feel so supported and encouraged. Another incredible thing about my experience at UNCG has been the opportunities that the program has made available and encouraged me to apply for/ attend – such as doing an internship at Greensboro Project Space, working as a project assistant to Shoshana Guggenheim for her project, the Greensboro Contemporary Jewish Museum, attending a two week residency at Salem Art Works, and the Digital Stone Project (which I will attend the summer of 2022, because of the pandemic).


What surprised you?

I was really surprised by how amazing the art program at UNCG is. I had heard good things, but I had no idea I was going to have the experience that I did. Although I’m excited about graduating and moving on, I’m also sad to be leaving the UNCG art program behind. I made some of my best friends in this program, I discovered new passions and developed my skills and artistic practice, I had an absolutely incredible support system in other students, professors, and faculty in the school of art, had access to so much in the amazing facilities (like the foundry, woodshop, and ceramics studio), I learned more than I ever thought I would have – including how to do woodworking, metal casting, welding, and so much more. The sculpture program was so empowering to me, because for the most part I had never built anything or worked with power tools or anything like that before. This program gave me so much more confidence in my own abilities.


Who helped you get to where you are now?

First and foremost, I would not be where I am without my father, my mother, and my partner, Jason. My mom and dad always believed in me so much more than I believed in myself. My dad passed away after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease in December, 2015. The year before he died, I started painting with him after researching how it could help him with some of his Parkinson’s symptoms. Seeing how much joy painting brought him, and how it gave him agency and was something he was able to do when he had had so much taken from him by Parkinson’s, was one of the most profound experiences of my life; it showed me how transformative and healing art can be, and made me want to pursue it further (originally wanting to be an art therapist). After working past the grief and depression that followed his death, in 2017 I decided that I would go back to school to pursue a degree in art – hoping that I would be able to help others through art, and also knowing how proud it would have made my dad. I chose UNCG’s art program because I had heard many good things about it from various people, but the experience with my dad, and immense support and encouragement to pursue a degree in art and to follow my passions from My mom and Jason, were the biggest reasons I ended up at UNCG. My mom and Jason were constant pillars of support and encouragement for me throughout my time in this program, and I absolutely could not have gotten through without them. Second, the friends I made in the art program, and my professors in and outside of the art program. I definitely would not have done as well as I did and thrived in the program without these wonderful people, whom I learned so much from. Specifically, the professors that impacted me, guided me, and helped me the most were Pat Wasserboehr, Nikki Blair, Barbara Campbell-Thomas, Holly Silvers, Lee Walton, Nicole Scalissi, and Bryan Ellis – I am beyond thankful for each of them.


What do you think you will miss the most after you graduate?

I will miss having access to the facilities, especially the foundry. I’m going to have to find somewhere to weld ASAP! I will miss having the support system I did at the school, and getting to talk to and see my art friends and professors on a regular basis.


Advice for the incoming class?

You will get out as much as you put in. If you have a positive mindset, are dedicated to learning as much as you can, and consistently show up and put in the work, you will thrive in this program. Think about your time in college as an investment in yourself and your future, and really try to get as much out of your time here as you are able.


Describe the moment you knew you UNCG was for you (or alternatively the moment you knew you were in the right major):

Again, I can’t think of a singular moment, but I knew I was in the right major because I was so excited about learning everything, about attending each of my classes, and about the work I was doing. I had moments of doubt and uncertainty and many struggles, but through it all I still stuck with it and was committed to getting the most out of this experience as I can. Also, each time I have created something that I feel really good about, I knew that I was heading in the right direction. I guess one particularly formative experience at UNCG was taking my first social practice class with Lee Walton, and particularly a social practice project that me and Sydney Lee (a former student) created together, called Missing Parts Project. The experience of working with her, of creating a project centered around connecting members of the community and encouraging people to be vulnerable and to foster connection through their vulnerability, and the culmination of that project as a show at Greensboro Project Space, definitely made me feel that this was exactly where I needed to be, and greatly informed what I want in the future.


Your favorite place on campus and why?

My favorite place on campus is tied between the foundry in the art building, and the courtyard of the Weatherspoon Art Museum (and just the Weatherspoon in general). The foundry is my favorite place to work on campus, and is where I discovered my passion for working with metal. I love having access to all the tools and equipment in the foundry, and I feel so much possibility when I’m there. The courtyard of the Weatherspoon is just one of the most peaceful and beautiful places on campus to me. I have spent so many moments sitting at one of the tables, feeling the sun of my skin, and enjoying the sculptures and other scenery there. As far as the actual museum, it’s just incredible to have access to such an amazing museum and collection of art on campus. I have seen so many AMAZING shows at the Weatherspoon, that have inspired me and my practice so much. It is such a fantastic resource to have as a student pursuing a degree in art or art history.


Your favorite professor or class and why?

I can’t choose one favorite – any of the sculpture classes I’ve taken, the social practice classes, and This is America (Art 300-X). The sculpture classes were so informative and incredible for me. I will always be so grateful for what I learned in these classes from each of my professors. The social practice classes I took created such a huge passion in me for social practice art, and were so exciting for me because they combined my interests in social justice, helping/ connecting with others, and art. This is America with Nicole Scalissi was one of the most incredible courses I took at UNCG and was so topical, informative, and important at this time in our country. I learned so much in her class, and it helped me understand things in a different way, and to think more critically about current events, the news, and much more. I think everyone needs to take this class; it will make you a better person.


Anything else you would like to share about your experience at UNCG and in your major that you think prospective students should know about?

If you are passionate about art, want to be in a program where you will feel fully supported, and to be in an environment that guarantees your success as a student and as an artist, and where you can learn from some of the best professors out there, then you’re in the right place.


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