Although artist Donté K. Hayes lives in Atlanta, he is no stranger to Louisville. He’s had numerous exhibits in town, and his current show, “Cosmic Remix,” is now hanging at Garner Narrative Contemporary Fine Art Gallery in NuLu. The show is a continuation of his “Afrofuturist” series, which features images that project the future with a nod to the past.
Hayes’ passion for hip-hop music, history and science fiction influences his work, and he recently took a trip to Cuba that inspired his art as well. He was intrigued by the strong culture of Africa he found there, the Afro-Cubans who came from West Africa during the Atlantic slave trade for the sugar cane industry.
“While in Cuba, I was struck by how the Cuban people have to find creative ways to use and maintain technology that is old and obsolete,” he says. “In the late ’70s to the early ’90s, the boombox was the tool that brought the plight of urban people to the entire world. Obsolete yet still can be used to admit sound … The boombox is a technology that reminds you of hip-hop culture but also a way to unite and bring people together socially and even politically, like the political soap box.”
Hayes works in printmaking, sculpture, mixed-media drawings and other mediums, and his trademark humor, bright color and musical patterning make his art accessible and layered. He says his work is a response to how history can be changed, shaped and reinterpreted.
“While incorporating pop culture, West African motifs, history and technology, my art confronts the viewer with issues of imagery, power, alienation, violence, identity and social politics,” Hayes explains.
We caught up with the artist before his reception —which takes place Friday, March 3, from 6 to 9 p.m. — to ask him some important questions. “Cosmic Remix” continues through March 31 at Garner Narrative, 642 E. Market St.
What’s the most surprising thing on your Bucket List?
The most surprising thing on my Bucket List is to live out my retirement years in the big sky country of Montana.
What poster was on your wall in junior high?
I had three posters on my wall in junior high. One was the Batman symbol poster, a comic book nerd must; the Detroit Pistons’ Bad Boys iconic skull and crossbones with basketball and black background; and the poster of hip-hop duo Eric B. & Rakim’s “Paid in Full” album.
If you were mayor, to whom would you give the key to the city?
If I was mayor, I would give the key to the city to Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose writing on culture and sociopolitical issues is always smart and thought-provoking. Plus, he is the writer of Marvel’s new “Black Panther” comic book.
What are your preferred pizza toppings?
First of all, pizza is a touchy subject for me, since I am highly allergic to tomatoes. So my sauce of choice is an alfredo sauce with chicken and spinach.
If you could be any age for a week, what would it be?
I would be 17 because I miss the pickup games of basketball and all the ridiculous trash talking.
What famous person do people say you resemble the most?
The famous person most people say I resemble is the Rev. Run from legendary rap group Run DMC — especially when I’m wearing glasses and Adidas sports apparel.
Who would you most like to be stuck with in an elevator?
The person I would most like to be stuck with in an elevator is actress Jolene Blalock, who played the character of Vulcan sub-commander T’Pol on the television show “Star Trek: Enterprise.” The episode titled “In a Mirror, Darkly” will explain why.