Four Day Ray Showcase: Caroline Hays’s “Read Between the Layers”

Four Day Ray Showcase: Caroline Hays’s “Read Between the Layers”

Caroline Hays is an artist whose work demonstrates the layers of history that go into a place. Through her work’s textural surface, she invites the viewer to step into the history of each place in her exhibit “Read Between the Layers.”

After graduating from IU as graphic designer, Caroline spent time working at the IU newspaper. “I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do full time.” In her search for fulfillment, she decided to get her teaching license at Noblesville High School and began to teach drawing and painting. Teaching art became the perfect combination of her passions for art and fostering creativity. “[I] love witnessing [my] students grow in their skills and seeing them define their voice as an artist.”

Caroline’s own artwork is inspired by her immense love for history and her family’s legacy of travel. The mixed media style she has created is composed of layers of maps, brochures, and other paper-related items collected from travels. “When I was in high school, I took portfolio class. While my style has changed dramatically [since then], place and travel were parts of that portfolio.”

Many of the brochures, book pages, and maps used in her pieces come from the artifacts that her grandparents kept to document their travels. Her grandfather was a navigator in World War II, so it seems only fitting that maps and travel have become a major part of Caroline’s art. “A lot of the maps have his markings of their trips on them. It’s neat to have his hand in the piece as well as mine.” Through her work she hopes to honor her grandparents’ legacy and pay tribute to the history that the places they visited hold. Additionally, Caroline’s parents took the family on many trips. “When I was growing up, travel was a big part of our lives [in the form of] family vacations.” It’s all about legacy.

The foundation of Caroline’s process starts with adhering a map to the surface of the piece.  Upon the map, she builds in layers of shapes inspired by the architecture of the place.  The use of mainly neutral colors works to invoke a sense of nostalgia with the viewer, similar to sepia-toned photographs and aged history books.  Gold leaf and splatters are often incorporated to add a final element of human touch, to symbolize the passage of time, and to communicate a sense of sacredness to the place.

Lately, things have shifted so Caroline can make her personal art her priority. Developing this style has been trial and error, although the hardest part is the color—“I don’t want the layers too covered up. I’ve had to bring in additional maps after the original layer, trying to keep the background items there but not too present.” She’s also starting to collect more items when her family travels. “There’s so many sites, I am always taking pictures of stuff – when I find something interesting, then I never know if that will lead to something or not, but I’m always taking more for potential future work.”

Come see Caroline’s exhibit “Read Between the Layers” at Four Day Ray Brewing in Fishers from December 31, 2022 through March 29, 2023. Open all week long for lunch and dinner, come enjoy a meal and travel to faraway places through Caroline’s art. Meet Caroline at her free public reception on Monday, February 20 from 4:30pm-7:30pm at Four Day Ray.  Commissions are also open, so if you’re an avid traveler with mementos, Caroline would love to help turn your travel stories into art.

Les Reinhardt
lreinhardt@nickelplatearts.org