Jul 192012

Psychology Tomorrow Magazine has just published a lush spread on the brilliant New York photographer/filmmaker Bill Hayward, including a profile by Geoff Gehman, a gallery of photos, and a short Hayward film on the artist Jim Peters. I’ve known Bill since 1993 when he took to jacket photo for my novel The Life and Times of Captain N. — yes, the younger me with hair, black shirt, floating against a black backdrop, earnest and mysterious. He’s a photographic innovator, having invented the collaborative portrait which he has made his hallmark. See the cover of his book bad behavior (Rizzoli, 2000) above for an example. He photographs artists, authors, dancers, actors and ordinary people, but the modus operandi is always some interaction between the subject, huge sheets or rolls of white paper, a brush and black paint. The subject draws or writes or paints on the paper, creates paper sculptures, dances naked with the text or the cartoon or the painting, wraps herself in her words, so to speak. The results are a riot of astonishing wit, imagination and humor. Something emerges about the subject that has never been revealed, some intimation of the hidden self, gorgeous and poignant. You can see more examples of Bill’s work at his web site. He blogs at http://www.billhayward.com/blog/ and at thehumanbible.

For three decades Bill Hayward has been photographing people expressing themselves with black paint, paintbrush, sheets of white paper and permission to do anything and everything. He has documented a naked poet’s antlers, a magazine editor’s manifesto about her sexual abuse, a fashion designer’s Pope-in-a-sauna costume. It’s all part of his mission to encourage the magical elements that society tends to discourage: imagination, mystery and profound play.

Hayward’s fellow players have included actor Willem Dafoe, Native American activist-author Russell Means and detective Anne Marie Moloney, who helped bury 23 New York Police Department colleagues killed by the collapse of the World Trade Center’s twin towers. His sites have ranged from his Manhattan studio, site of the “Bad Behavior” project, where creative types explored their alter egos; the Port Authority Bus Terminal, the multi-media site of “The Intimacies Project,” which explored the motion of emotion, and Bunker Hill, one of many historic sites for “The American Memory Project,” which explored how Americans adapt to, and adopt, their heritage. The whole series of nearly 500 portraits is called “The Human Bible.”

Geoff Gehman @ Psychology Tomorrow Magazine

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