In an age where technology seems to be at odds with the fine arts, literature and original thought, Hayley Middlebrook has decided to embrace the negative notions and show technology (and society) a thing or two.
Upon competing in the Big Country Art Association, Middlebrook, senior 3-D modeling major from McKinney, was recognized as one of the few contestants whose work presented an appreciation for technology in the online dating realm today.
“I was kind of surprised I even got in,” said Middlebrook. “My professors told me about it and I kind of had to hunt it down and remember ‘Oh, the deadline is approaching’ and I submitted my work and got in. I felt like my work didn’t fit in with the other pieces selected, but it did and that was really cool.”
Before meeting her fiance on OkCupid, Middlebrook felt as though millennials and young adults had a negative stigma toward those wishing to pursue online dating. Despite her hesitation, Middlebrook decided to try out the online dating culture. And just like that, she met her man.
“[The Sculpture] was kind of created out of me thinking about online dating,” said Middlebrook, “and if that leads to actual physical relationships and maybe even marriage in the future which is relevant to me since I found my guy through it.”
Even though the sculpture does not contain a detailed summary about Middlebrook’s intent, her personal testimony is what connects the originality and nuance. It’s the uniqueness of her story and piece that grants the viewer hope for the possibility of finding love in the midst of a technological world.
“I was proposed to on the day of the reception,” said Middlebrook as she giggled in excitement. “I’m not a big surprise person and I knew it was going to happen and it helped that the show was happening that weekend too. Oh, and my birthday was the following day (laughs). And we were talking about how he was going to propose because we had already talked about it and then he said ‘Well, I should get on my knee then,’ and that’s how it happened. The show, the proposal and my birthday all in one weekend.”
Although her love story inspired of her piece, Middlebrook discovered her passion for art much earlier. As a child, Middlebrook loved to create. Whether it be a painting, a clay sculpture or a simple drawing, Middlebrook knew she wanted to pursue art as a full time profession.
“I was always in art growing up and I don’t really have any specific memories that are technically my favorite,” laughed Middlebrook. “It wasn’t a surprise to anyone that I came to ACU for art.”
Switching over from graphic design at the end of her sophomore year to 3-D modeling, Middlebrook knew she had found her niche. From one year to the next, Middlebrook’s artistic atmosphere changed. She was finally creating again.
“I initially came here as a graphic design student to make more money than just fine arts,” said Middlebrook, “But, ultimately I changed over to 3-D modeling because it made me happy. And I thought I would rather be happy than make money. Since I stayed within the art department, I had already taken a sculpture class before I changed and that really drove me to change to being a sculpting major.”
Inspired by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti, Middlebrook said she always admired his work and tried to incorporate his techniques into her own work.
“I started off with that [Giacometti] and then slowly fell away from that and tried to find my own style and techniques and niche within that,” said Middlebrook.
Through the halls of the Don Morris building, one can catch glimpse of Middlebrook at work; craving, analyzing and ever so slightly, admiring the future piece of work to blossom from the mess before her. Like all talented artists, Middlebrook see’s her end result in sight.
By understanding the audience and listening to their artistic appetites, Middlebrook knows what each piece created should represent, who should it speak to and how it should be perceived.
“Art is so subjective and some people are going to like your work and some aren’t and you just kind of have to keep going with your life,” said Middlebrook with a grin.
Smiling as she strokes her pixie-cut hair back, Middlebrook returns to her station eager to create another masterpiece, another possible submission.