Sharon Hayes on performance art

Having come of age in New York City during the AIDS crisis, artist Sharon Hayes has always made work connected to political movements. She blends performance with installation and video to create large-scale works that explore the relationship between “the private and the public; the personal and the political.” 

Hayes moved to Philadelphia in 2015 to join the faculty in the Department of Fine Arts at the Weitzman School, where she teaches performance, video, a course entitled Across Forms: Art and Writing with poet and Department of English faculty member Rachel Zolf.

This January, she co-led a pilot project called Performance Intensive that brought together Penn students, emerging artists from around the country, and the greater Philadelphia community. 

“The Performance Intensive is a pilot project that I developed with Brooke O’Harra [senior lecturer, Creative Writing] from the School of Arts and Sciences. Brooke is an experimental theater practitioner, an artistic collaborator and also my partner,” Hayes says.

“What we were interested in with the Performance Intensive was to create a container that could do hold three primary aims. One is to allow emerging artists working with performance, across different genres, to come together and learn from each other. The second is to provide a temporal frame for learning, exploring and experimenting that allows for longer and more sustained time than that of a class period. The third is to seed the beginnings of an infrastructure for engaged, in-depth innovative research in performance praxis.

“We’re hoping that the Performance Intensive can continue, but also that the project might serve as a magnet to attract relationships with other scholars and practitioners across different schools at Penn and beyond who are interested in elevating performance as a praxis and a site of research.”

Read more at the Weitzman School.