Donté Hayes

Artist Statement

My research has been focused on the pineapple as a symbol which represents welcoming and hospitality. This investigation in the rituals, and the action of being welcomed or hospitable to others is from my own experiences. I have encountered many struggles in negotiating public spaces as a black man and person of color. Through this inquiry, the tradition of the pineapple as a symbol for hospitality is rooted in slavery and agricultural colonization of South Carolina, the Caribbean, and the Southern United States in particularly, South Carolina and my home state of Georgia. When on a spicket. The pineapple now, becoming the beacon to identify a new slave ships bringing enslaved Africans docked at warf, the foremen placed a pineapple shipment of enslaved Africans have arrived. Thus originating the pineapple as a symbol for welcoming.

From this research my art practice pulls from my interest in hip-hop culture, history, and science fiction. The artwork references the visual traditions from the Southern United States, Carribbean, South America, and the African continent. I utilize printmaking, installation, and performance to elevate the importance of my ceramic sculptures as a historical and creative base material to inform memories of the past. The handling of clay reveals the process and shares the markings of its maker. Ceramics becomes a bridge to conceptually integrate disparate objects and or images for the purpose of creating new understandings and connections with the material, history, and social-political issues. I compare the construction and deconstruction of materials to the remix in rap music and how human beings adapt to different environments and reinvent new identities. These ceramic objects are vessels, each making symbolic allusions to the black body.

The artworks suggest the past, discusses the present, and explores possible futures interconnected to the African Diaspora. While also examining deeper social issues which broaden the conversation between all of humanity.

-- Donté Hayes


Donté K Hayes graduated summa cum laude from Kennesaw State University at Kennesaw, Georgia with a BFA in Ceramics and Printmaking with an Art History minor. Recent art exhibitions include group shows at the Museum of Science + Industry Chicago, Illinois, the Association of Visual Arts in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia in Atlanta. He has also been included in recent juried exhibitions from the 2019 and 2020 NCECA Student Juried Show, and the 2018 River to River Midwest Regional Ceramic Juried Show at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Hayes, is a 2019 Ceramics Monthly Magazine Emerging Artists. In 2019, he was awarded the Artaxis Fellowship. Donté is a recent MFA graduate with honors from the University of Iowa and is the 2017 recipient of the University of Iowa Arts Fellowship.