Art Out of the Box – Meet Spencer Hayden!

Art Out of the Box
Meet Spencer Hayden & his unique sculptures
story and Photos by: Carla Edstrom
It’s that time of year where nature wakes up from her deep sleep, and we have cleaned off the yellow pollen of spring from our porches. With summer trying to make an appearance comes the annual migration of pale northern tourists to our beaches hoping to thaw out.

It’s that time of year to eat outside before it gets too hot and the bugs’ wake up. And we listen to local bands playing on the waterfront. As I had dinner by the water one night, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to great bluegrass music at an open mic event. I was really impressed by all the local musical talent represented, but especially by how fast this one guy was playing keyboard. And once I found out he was also an artist, I knew I had to meet him.
I have to admit, when I went to meet Adrian Spencer Hayden and talk about his art, I had no idea just how successful and talented he was. Hayden has spent his life working in a creative field going between art and music. As an award-winning 3D artist, he has over 100 best in show awards on his resume. And working as a professional musician, he has played with the likes of Andy Grammar and Jerry Lee Lewis. Being very successful in both music and art is a feat that many artists like myself only dream of.
Hayden grew up in Farmville, VA and emanates from a very creative family that influenced both his artwork and his music. His grandmother taught him how to play piano and was also a very gifted painter of the impressionist style. His love for pottery started in the 6th grade when his art teacher gave him some clay. “I made this crazy form, and she entered it into an art show and it was accepted,” he said. He ended up going to college majoring in art and becoming a professional artist.
His current body of work includes large clay slab built sculptures that are breathtaking both in size, form and theme. The expertise of his art is evident in not only the proportion of lines and curves, but in the subject matter drawn on them. Picasso-like nude figures and thick lines adorn the sides of one large piece fitting well with the curves of the clay. Hayden has mastered the craft of making large slab built pieces, and it’s easy to see why he has so many awards to his name. It is not easy getting such large pieces successfully through the pottery process.
Hayden’s life has been a story of great success following trials and adversity. Before he found his love for working in art, he learned how to play music in spite of some challenges. Hayden struggled with dyslexia and it proved to be a challenge when he was learning the piano. He found reading music nearly impossible since he couldn’t read the music leger from left to right as is traditionally done. Remarkably, he learned how to convert it in a way he could understand it.
“My love for pottery started in the 6th grade when my art teacher gave me some clay… “

After having a successful career as a master jewelry maker in Arizona, Hayden’s success came to a crashing halt in 1995 with the diagnosis of heavy metals poisoning from working with so many metals. He was forced to immediately stop making art and go through treatment. “Reluctantly, I closed my jewelry studios. I was on top of the world and then it all crashed. It ruined my life for a while”, he said. After that, Hayden spent years trying to figure out what to do next since he couldn’t make the jewelry and he had to limit his pottery making because of the cadmium and other metals often used in many glazes. “I’ve always had music in my back pocket,” he said. And that is when he went back into music.
Hayden and his wife Kristi have made Southport their home, relocating here two years ago. Today, Hayden is busy getting his pottery studio up and running at his home in Southport, and is teaching art including clay and metal work at Brunswick Community College’s Southport Campus. With his infectious smile and welcoming friendly attitude, he hasn’t let his successes change his small town humble roots. He is content in his accomplishments, as he has had a great run with both his art and music careers. His continued successes are an inspiration to all artists and musicians alike.
You can find Hayden’s pottery sculptures at the Art Shak on Howe Street in Southport. You can also hear him play keyboard most every Monday night at the Dead End Saloon where he co-hosts the open mic night with John Tatum. Be sure to look for his classes this fall at Brunswick Community College in Southport on Lorde Street.

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