Grant Recipients Grants to Artists Visual Arts 2024

Sharon Hayes

Sharon Hayes stands in the middleground, centered in a studio space with large yellow panels with black lettering in the background and on the table in front of her. She smiles directly at the camera, wearing a black and red striped button up shirt, the maroon strap of a crossbody bag over her shoulder.
Photo by Åsa Lundén.
  • 2024 Grants to Artists
  • Visual Arts
  • Artist, Teacher
  • Born 1970, Baltimore, MD
  • Lives in Philadelphia, PA
  • She/Her
  • Additional Information

Artist Statement

I linger in the grammar—linguistic, affective, and sonic—through which political resistance appears. I'm invested in specific intersections between history, politics, and speech, and root around in those intersections out of a desire to unspool reductive historical narratives and to re-ignite dormant pathways through which counter-understandings of the contemporary political condition can be formed. I make work in collective force and in resonance with the heterogeneous field of actions, voices, and practices that resist normative behaviors, complicit and unjust social agreements, and proscriptive temporalities to open up new ways of being together in the world. I began my work in the downtown dance, theater, and performance scene in New York City doing theatrically-based performance work. I maintain a deep commitment to performance and to collaboration. And I am devoted to the radical possibilities of non-normative occupation of public space and in holding public space as a site for unpredictable and unregulated encounters.

- December 2023


Sharon Hayes is an artist who uses video, performance, sound, and public sculpture to develop new representational strategies that examine the current political moment. She views the present-day political condition as reaching backward and forward simultaneously—never wholly its own, but containing past moments and the speculations of multiple futures. Often addressing political events or movements from the 1960s through the 1990s, her focus on the near-past is influenced by urgent private and public concerns that inspire queer and feminist movements and writing.

Hayes’ video installation series Ricerche, the Italian word for "research,” draws its interview-centric structure from Pier Paolo Pasolini's 1963 film, Comizi d'Amore. The multi-work series explores perspectives on gender, sex, and sexuality, and the political and economic conditions that inform them. Ricerche: four, the final component of the series, is composed of three group interviews with queer and trans elders in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Dowelltown, TN. The work stages a contemporary inquiry into the "sexual problem" in the US, in which value-based policy and ideology cover up underlying economic and political vulnerabilities.

Hayes’ solo exhibition What do we want? was presented at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein in Berlin, Germany in 2022. Among the works featured was Ricerche: two (2020), a component of her larger series, comprised of video footage from Hayes’ interviews with 22 members of two American women’s tackle football teams. The work unearths a dialogue that explores dynamics of gender, sexuality, and community within and outside of professional athletic spaces. Hayes’ other solo exhibitions include An Army of Lovers Cannot Lose at Kristina Kite Gallery in Los Angeles, CA, in collaboration with Tanya Leighton Gallery in Berlin, Germany (2021); and Echo at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (2019). 

Hayes’ work has been shown in group exhibitions at institutions including the University of Applied Arts, Vienna; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; Prospect 5, New Orleans, LA; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; and LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions), Los Angeles, CA.

Hayes has been awarded the US Artists Fellowship (2021), the Pew Fellowship (2016), the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship (2014), as well as the Alpert Award in the Arts (2013). She received her M.F.A. from University of California, Los Angeles in 2003.

A closeup shot centering a young person with bleached hair as they speak into a microphone being in front of them. Sharon Hayes stands with her back to the camera on the left side of the frame wearing a grey collared shirt. In the right side of the frame, another person's shoulder is visible with an arm draped over it.

Video still from Ricerche: three, 2013, single-channel video. Pictured: Octavia Cephas.

A black and white aerial shot of Pier 54 with the pier appearing a horizontal line across the center of the frame . On the pier the words

Performance still from Women of the World Unite, they said. at Pier 54, New York organized by the High Line, 2014. Photo by Liz Ligon.

A round metal pamphlet holder is bracketed to a white wall and holds two stacks of light pink pamphlets side by side. A small blue banner at the top of the pamphlets reads

Come Out, Come Out, produced for Art on the Underground, May 2023 Tube Map cover.

Sharon Hayes is centered in an image of a New York City sidewalk with pedestrians in the background. She stands and speaks into a microphone on a stand, dressed in a navy sweater over a white collared shirt, and dark green pants with a black belt.

Performance still from Everything Else Has Failed, Don't You Think It's Time For Love, outside the UBS headquarters, New York, 2007. Photo by Hans Kuzmich.

A dark gallery space with three wooden stools and a projector positioned in front of a wall with mounted speakers. In the video being projected, Sharon Hayes stands among a small group of women. She is on the left side of the frame with her back to the camera and holds a microphone up to a person across from her.

Installation view of Ricerche: three, 2013 in Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon, New Museum, New York, 2018.

A dark gallery space with checkered stone floors and a large, concave projection screen curved to fit the shape of the room. On the projection screen, two video frames are displayed. On the left half of the screen is an image of four women athletes turned to listen to an offscreen speaker. One is wearing a crewneck that says,

Installation view of Ricerche: two, Kristina Kite Gallery, Los Angeles, 2021.

A gallery space with a white paneled ceiling and grey floors holds text-based visual arts works of different rectangular sizes framed and hung on a wall. Many works are made from fabric and feature a solid color background with backwards text constructed from collage. Phrases on the pieces include

Installation view from What do We Want?, Neue Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin, Germany, 2023.

A young child wearing a light blue striped tank top is centered, sitting on a wooden bench outside with foliage in the background. They gaze downward as they speak into a black microphone held out to them by an adult on the left, whose body is out of frame. There is another child sitting to their right, who turns to listen as they speak. In the background is another child, holding onto the bench as they stand behind it.

Video still from Ricerche: one, 2019, two-channel video. Pictured: Winter Collins, Orion Akash Phelps.

A dark gallery space with sloped ceilings holds a wooden panel board on which images of people sitting in their homes are projected.

Installation view of In My Little Corner of the World, Anyone Would Love You, Studio Voltaire, London, England, 2016. Photo by Andy Keate.