‘Cash Crop’ sculpture exhibit to open at Troy University’s Rosa Parks Museum on Thursday

Stephen Hayes' exhibit,

Stephen Hayes' exhibit, "Cash Crop," will open at the Rosa Parks Museum on Thursday with a public reception at 6 p.m.

An exhibit of the works of award-winning artist Stephen Hayes will open Thursday in the gallery at Troy University’s Rosa Parks Museum.

The sculpture exhibit, “Cash Crop,” depicts the horrors of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and seeks to create a connection between human rights violations of the past and the present. The exhibit will open with a public reception in the museum’s atrium at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

“We’re excited about hosting the exhibit, ‘Cash Crop,’ by artist Stephen Hayes,” said Dr. Felicia Bell, the museum’s director. “I’m always looking for ways to challenge our visitors to think critically about the continuing struggle for civil and human rights. This exhibit does exactly that, as Stephen brilliantly juxtaposes the conditions of forced migration with the conditions of exploited labor. Although the Trans-Atlantic slave trade ended many years ago, remnants of the trade—exploited labor with minimal investment and maximum profit for the investor—remain alive and well today. My hope is that visitors are reminded that the fight for equality and justice extends far beyond Mrs. Parks and the Modern Civil Rights Movement in America.”

Hayes’ goal for the exhibit was to create 15 life-size models to symbolize the 12.5 million Africans imported to the Americas from 1526 to 1867 during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

“This body of work serves as a reflection of the past and a glimpse of our present,” Hayes said. “The rear of each model displays a map outline of the Brookes slave ship. The map outlines correspond to how slavery in the Americas was established maintained and provided economic wealth for Europeans. Through the mending of materials, this exhibition brings a new dynamic to the history of the slave trade for modern-day visitors. Cash Crop is not only about the transporting of people as commodities, but it is also about how America still benefits from outsourcing and sweatshop labor in developing countries. Sweatshops today are mirror images of slave ships from the past—people have just enough space to produce as many goods as possible.”

Originally from Durham, N.C., Hayes earned his undergraduate degree from North Carolina Central University and his Master of Fine Arts in sculpture from the Savannah College of Art and Design. In addition to exhibition work, Hayes has also served as an instructor at Georgia State University.

Gallery exhibits are free and open to the public and available for viewing during normal museum hours, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For additional information, contact Madeline Burkhardt at 334-241-8701 or by email at mburkhardt@troy.edu.