Jen Wink Hays is a painter and sculptor based in Philadelphia, PA. Her oil paintings are characterized by her use of a bold, dissonant color palette that blends subdued earthy tones with aggressive, synthetic neons. Incomplete visual layers also convey struggle and resolution in Hays' work. There is a push/pull between what is shown and what is concealed as if something is at once being covered over and peeled away. Says the artist, "I'm interested in 'the glimpse' and the way that partially obscuring something or keeping it hidden can give it more power - and energize what remains in view. I am also drawn to the way this sets up a truly dynamic, unpredictable visual field where unintentional collisions of color and form can take place." Hays work in sculpture encompasses a variety of familiar, user-friendly mediums including paper pulp, paper mache, plaster and clay. The resulting groupings of colorful, eccentric forms—sometimes geometric sometimes more biomorphic—play off of Hays’ oil paintings.
Hays has exhibited nationally and internationally, including New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Edinburgh and Milan and her work is included in the permanent collection at the University of Maine Museum of Art. Hays' recent solo shows include Wondrous Ponderous (2019) and Playing Field (2018) both with Sears Peyton Gallery in New York City. In 2017, Hays' brought her show Vacationland to Miami's Wynwood art district with Art Bastion Gallery. In mid-fall 2020, Hays will undertake her first museum show at University of Maine Museum of Art in Bangor, Maine.
Hays is originally from a quaint, small town in coastal Maine. She moved to New York City as a teenager to attend Barnard College and has lived in big cities ever since. Hays finished her undergrad years at Barnard—where she completed a dual major in modern art history and studio art—ready to practice art full-time. This, of course, was easier said than done. To supplement her ongoing studio work, Hays worked in a variety of creative fields; as an editorial designer (Village Voice), a small business owner (Utility Design) an off-Broadway dramaturg (Blue Man Group), a founder of an independent Manhattan day school (Blue School). About ten years ago, Hays was able to make the transition to full-time painter and sculptor. Today she lives and works in Philadelphia with her kids and husband, fellow painter Tyler Hays.