Preparing to Soar: Hayes Dobbins Exhibition Recap

Updated: May 8

Preparing to Soar, Hayes Dobbins’s solo show, embodies the spiritual overcoming of the artist herself, as well as those she wishes to honor through her work.

Dobbins’ figural work, inspired by her walks in the woods, emerges from the organic forms she encounters while immersed in nature. Vines, branches, and tree textures mingle with her clay sculptures to express a human relationship with nature.


The winged figures are a testament to the human spirit experiencing nature, which leads to overcoming stifling pain and spreading their wings to take flight. These sculptures are mostly self-portraits representing simultaneously the struggle and triumph of the human spirit.

In addition to her figurative work, Preparing to Soar features eagles in flight adorned with purple hearts.

"The eagles with purple hearts are my way of honoring the soldiers that come home with a broken heart, the wounds you can’t see, the broken souls. The government used them to fight; I want to award them with the high medal of honor."-Hayes Dobbins


For Dobbins, this desire is connected to her father, who was a Marine during Vietnam. “[He] came home without a bullet wound, but his mind and soul were broken… I want to honor him with the medal. I can give these purple hearts away.”

Although these pieces focus on the pain which our veterans face, Dobbins does not leave us without hope. Several of these pieces include crystal bullets, which represent fighting with white light against the darkness and the need for healers and peace makers. Through her work, Hayes ensures that the viewer knows that they too can overcome their pain and transform into a being ready to take flight.

As an artist originally from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Hayes Dobbins works out of a community studio with the Kentuck Red Dog Potters. Dobbins studied art at the University of Montevallo and earned a BFA with a concentration in ceramic sculpture. She uses wild, naturally occurring clay that is harvested from the creek and riverbanks. Processing the clay makes her feel grounded and more closely connected to mother earth. Her process uses the five elements: earth, fire, water, air, and spirit.


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© 2020 by Kentuck Art Center.

Kentuck Art Center and Festival was established in 1971. Kentuck's mission is to perpetuate the arts, engage the community, and empower the artist. The Kentuck Festival of the Arts is held annually in October, and during that weekend, makes a $5.5 million economic impact on its community.

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