By MaryCatherine Karcich, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Westborough resident John Hayes has spent his life focused on art and teaching, combining both as an art teacher. With 42 years under his belt, Hayes understands the challenges growing artists face and believes anyone who is able to make a living by producing their own art is very fortunate.
At a young age, Hayes had an eye operation that led him to doing drawing exercises to help build the muscle in his eye. He did fairly well in his elementary school art classes and drawing blossomed into other areas of art, his most preferred being painting and printmaking.
During his college career, Hayes became exposed to The Graphic Workshop (TGW), a collaborative organization formed by students in 1970 as protest against the Vietnam War. In 1973 he was referred to art teacher Rob Moore in hopes of working with him independently. At the time, Hayes was studying painting and printmaking at the Massachusetts College of Art.
Being at Moore’s studio introduced Hayes to the founding members of TGW. Coincidentally, the organization was looking for new members to take the place of a few who were looking to break off in new directions. It didn’t take long until Hayes found himself on their schedule. His role, along with everyone else’s, was to contribute with the production of someone’s design. When the ‘80s rolled along, he also stepped into the position of treasurer.
Although TGW ended in 1992, its memory is still being shared today. The Rebellion and Grace Exhibition, held from Aug. 25 until Sept. 24 at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, will be taking a look back at the organization’s work through 85 silkscreen posters. As a former member of TGW, Hayes has expressed his excitement for the event.
“[I] will be there with bells on,” he said. “Twenty-two years of beautiful color, art, design and social issues – it doesn’t come much better or sexy than that.”
In his teaching career, Hayes spent 31 of his 42 years at Westborough High School where he has seen many individual successes among his students. Whether they have gone on to pursue their art or not, Hayes feels that “if they can carry on with offering an honest statement of encouragement to individuals and celebrate the diversity of people then I have done my job as a teacher, and I would consider them to be my successes.”
Hayes has also learned valuable lessons through his experiences. When it comes to teaching, he believes it is important for students to give themselves a second chance. Hayes sees a first-attempt failure as another opportunity to try again. At TGW, he learned the value of sharing and working in a collaborative environment. He also likes to remember the philosophy: “Get up, kick butt, be nice, repeat!”
For anyone looking to go out and support a cause they are passionate about, Hayes’ most important advice would be to do research to learn and understand the truths about that cause.
“There is nothing more frustrating, embarrassing or tragic when you go full in on something only to find out that it was half true, misguided or dead out wrong,” he said.
Hayes is fortunate enough to be continuing with art as an adjunct professor at Clark University where he teaches an art history class called “The Essentials of Modern Art.” While he’s not in the classroom, he enjoys painting and visiting “old friends” at museums and galleries. His main focus for his paintings has become landscapes, drawing inspiration from different places he visits, the most recent being Santa Fe, Calif.