Interview by Daniel Mariotti
Photos by Daniel Mariotti and Hailey Hatch
Hailey and I took some time to chat during an Open Studio at our Rockford location. Art and creating seemed to have always been a part of Hailey’s life; that and good food. Apparently, her family’s restaurant has the best pie around. I’ll update this once I make the trip up there and tell you how it is. Having only been here a year, she is learning quickly and proving to be a vital asset to our metal shop team.
BA: Where are you from/where did you grow up?
Hailey: Taylor, Arizona
BA: What’s your background in?
Hailey: BS in Art Education. I taught middle school art (6th-8th grade) for 7 years. I also waited tables at my parent’s restaurant (Trapper’s Cafe in Taylor AZ) which allowed me to pay my way through college.
BA: What is a typical day look like for you? (or week)
Hailey: My typical day depends on the size of the current project. If the work is small sometimes it can be completed in a day. Start by cutting off gates and preparing edges to weld. Then tack and hammer pieces and patches until they fit together like our reference images. Weld. Chase welds and match textures. Polish if needed. If it’s a bigger piece, all of that gets stretched out over the course of a week or more. Especially polishing. A lot of “typical days” are just polishing. Audiobooks are great for polishing days.
BA: What kind of books have you been listening to so far?
Hailey: I’ve listened to 42 books so far this year, probably more. I’ve been trying to go through and re-listen to all the classics. And so I read “The Count of Monte Cristo” and somehow I’ve made it this far in my life not knowing the premise of that book at all. It’s a 50-hour book, and I finished it in a week because I started listening to it outside of work, and it was so good.
BA: So your dad built a backyard aluminum foundry? What made him want to do that?
Hailey: My whole family kind of gets into these phases of, I just want to learn a lot about this one thing. And so he was an electrician and he’s run a restaurant for almost 30 years. And there was just always leftover aluminum foil from the restaurant. And so he thought it’d be interesting to try to build a foundry. He ended up just watching YouTube videos to build it and figured out a way to do it at home.
BA: Did he have like a gas connection or did he use propane?
Hailey: Our first one was like a blow dryer and a propane tank and like just a stack of bricks. But it’s got a lot better since then.
BA: That’s awesome. So growing up It’s safe to say that you had a lot of like hands-on kind of experience. Was your family like that all the time? Just making stuff?
Hailey: Yeah, like between the restaurant and just like different projects my dad would do. I always just kind of liked to tag along and be his little helper, whatever. So I know that we’re all pretty industrious.
BA: Professionally, what is your goal?
Hailey: Though I have a background in art much of what we do here is brand new to me. My goal at this point is simply to learn as much as I can. It’s what drives me. I always kind of had a passion to just learn and push. Sounds cliche but, live life to the fullest, whether it’s through friendships and relationships, trying new experiences, and not getting too stuck on one train.
BA: Most challenging piece you’ve done?
Hailey: The “Drip Table.” This was the first project I was given to complete on my own from start to finish. It felt like a sink or float kind of learning experience and I sank for quite a while. It was really motiving though. I started practicing welding at lunch and to see the table finally come together was a kind of an “Okay, I can do this,” moment for me.
BA: What art do you most identify with?
Hailey: I love any art that tells a story. The connection that comes from universal or shared experiences that can be depicted in art is really beautiful. I’m also much more of a process artist. I like to be able to see in the product how something was made or if it’s not immediately obvious I like to guess. From teaching I learned to enjoy the struggle of the process and what it takes to overcome that.
BA: What work do you most enjoy doing?
Hailey: Historically I’m more of a painter. I do a lot of landscape paintings of places I’ve traveled to or gone climbing. My favorite personal projects are designing and painting longboards for friends with scenes that are significant to them. And currently working on my first bronze piece for our artisan show at Vision Gallery.
BA: Tell me more about the piece you are making for the “Melting Point” show, what is the idea behind it?
Hailey: I had such a hard time picking an idea because there was no theme. And I put a lot of pressure on myself because this was my first bronze piece. So up until the submission date, I was totally blank. And I was talking to somebody about it and they said “Well, it’s kind of like the kids, you know, you tell them to make anything and they won’t, but if you say draw an insect or something like that, they can really get into it and run with it.” And I was like, Okay, I’m gonna do insects. But then I did my sketch and started my initial structure for it and didn’t like it. So I actually changed it once I started sculpting and made it about my family’s things like the ocean. And so it just made it a little bit more personal and meaningful.
BA: What parts do you enjoy about making sculptures here?
Hailey: When I tell my friends about what I do or sometimes when I send pictures that other artists post on Instagram, I get to say I helped build this. But also the uniqueness that is metal art and the fact that it is more collaborative than you would assume. That’s something I didn’t totally understand before coming here. And I think there is almost a question of the authenticity of whose name goes on it and who creates it. You’re building something for someone else, not making your own art. And I like the idea of that, being part of something bigger, being part of a team, building something that lasts. I really like that.
BA: What role does the artist have in society?
Hailey: This was a favorite discussion to have with my middle school students. There are an endless amount of correct answers to this but I think the artists and their work become a mirror for society. Our art shows what we value, and what we want to see, and often helps us see areas we need to improve.
BA: What inspires you?
Hailey: I’m inspired by people who push limits. To see anyone pursuing a passion and having the drive to achieve excellence in any endeavor is incredible. Outdoor adventure is something I’ve always loved. I’ve been interested in the focus that goes into training and preparation to see the limits of what a person is capable of. The analysis of risk that comes with it in relation to elements outside of our control. There is a quote about Alex Honnold the “Free Solo” climber that says something along the lines of: “For Alex, a life lived less than to the fullest is a fate worse than dying.” That really struck me as profound, mostly in the sense that I think that is true for everyone. However, what “a life to the fullest” means to everyone is so very different. I find people most inspiring when you can see that they know what that means for them and they go for it.
BA: Anything else? Website, self-promotion, etc?
Hailey: I have an “Artist” Instagram but it’s not super up to date. @constance.art.co