Common Ground

Friday, June 3, 2016 (All day) to Thursday, June 23, 2016 (All day)



Common Ground: an exhibit by Peter Hay

Artist Statement

I remember when all I wanted to do was explore the drainage ditches that ran through my hometown. These concrete lined algae streams were veins of unharnessed “nature” flowing through the middle of small town America. My hometown was not big enough to have a zoo, or the museums and activities of a larger city. It was big enough to keep a kid, living a couple blocks from Main Street, and too young to drive isolated from “wilderness”. The ditches were my chance to explore and make discoveries “in the wild”. Once the childhood haze of imagination wore thin and the reality of my playground began to materialize, I found myself standing in an artificial creek. The algae parted to reveal the cement bottom to the stream and the meadows south of town turned out to be oil sludge contaminated buyouts where houses once stood. These revelations and the many more to come form the foundation of the work I now make.

My work stems from a need to investigate the natural world, how I fit into it, and how it has come to be the way it is. Searching to conceptually represent remanufactured landscapes has led to a curiosity in the use of assorted technologies and conventional scientific theory. The history of an environment or inhabitant can be represented through process. The multiple progressions and build up of varied layers of oils and minerals mesh and blend like the layers of an ecosystem. My approach to surface application allows me to use an assortment of heavily textured buildup through finer realistic rendering informed by my interest in past artists from the Ashcan School, Abstract Expressionists, and Neo-romantics. Numerous printmaking processes, digital stencils and layered application of paint mirror the thinned biodiversity, litter, invasive species and residual chemical contamination, which are all part of our familiar landscape. I do not think of the images as being a looking glass into the future, but an introspective embellishment of the present.


“Commons” will be a 45’x10’x8’ painted, vinyl, stained mulch, and colored recycled plastic immersive installation allegorically representing industrial and ecological aspects of Oklahoma’s past, present, and future as interpreted by my daughter and I. The wall will be completely painted with transparent washes of color creating depth and representing the chemical cloud we all inhabit. Historical images of Oklahoma’s industries found in the New York Public Library Public Collection and collected through my own research and travels will be projected and traced using paint. Atop the paint will be a vinyl cut smoke plum from an oil tank fire, spray from an oil gusher, and portions of a deer struggling to carry its antlers. Several Oklahoma animals drawn by Cora, my five-year-old daughter, are scanned and will be vinyl cut for the installation adding an element of innocences and to connect the past to the future. Breaking space and create a sense of immersion, mulch from Tulsa’s free mulch site will be stained with paint from the mural and placed by the wall. Abstract organic sculptural pieces created from colored plastics provided by the Metropolitan Environmental Trust will appear to be growing from the colored mulch."


Peter Hay is a painter and printmaker. His work is based on embellishments of current ecological issues, which could be described as environmental realism. Hay received his Associates of Art from Northern Oklahoma College, Bachelors of Art from Northeastern State University, and Master of Fine Arts from Louisiana Tech University, where he held a Full Teaching Assistantship and graduated as an Academic Excellence Honoree. In addition, Hay has completed several murals, worked as a freelance artist, and has participated in multiple group and solo exhibitions both nationally and internationally. Hay is currently the Director of Development and Public Relations for contemporary art incubator and exhibition space, Living Arts of Tulsa.


Giving Thanks:

“Common Ground” came about with the help of many hands. Special thanks to Cora Hay, Summer Hay, Amelia Hay, Julia Hay, Renee Nordholm, Mery McNett, Steve Liggett, and Michael Bowe for their assistance and patience.

Plastics graciously provided by: