Jeffreen Hayes, Ph.D

Jeffreen Hayes, Ph.D

Challenging and difficult issues such as race and class are not easy to discuss in words. But marginalized artists and creatives—those placed in the margins based on their racial, ethnic, or sexual identity—can have a profound sense of such issues, in part because they are so deeply affected by them.

The life of Harlem Renaissance artist Augusta Savage illustrates this principle. Savage was a working artist, arts educator, and organizer during a time—the Great Depression and World War II—when being an artist, Black, and a woman presented challenges to one’s survival. But her legacy, both as a public intellectual and a pioneering artist, continues into the 21st century. Jeffreen asserts that examining and re-examining the role of artists and creatives as public intellectuals adds a different perspective on our culture’s most polarizing topics.

Jeffreen M. Hayes, a trained art historian and curator, merges administrative, curatorial, and academic practices into her cultural practice of supporting artists and community development. As an advocate for racial inclusion, equity, and access, Jeffreen has developed a curatorial and leadership approach that invites community participation, particularly those in marginalized communities. Her curatorial projects include Intimate Interiors (2012), Etched in Collective History (2013), SILOS (2016), Augusta Savage: Renaissance Woman (2018), and Process (2019). Additionally, she is a guest curator for Artpace San Antonio’s International Artist-in-Residence program. Jeffreen is the Executive Director of Threewalls, a Chicago-based organization that brings segregated communities, people, and experiences together through art. Under her leadership, Threewalls intentionally develops artistic platforms that encourage connections beyond traditional engagements with art.

Jeffreen earned a Ph.D in American Studies from the College of William and Mary, a Masters in Art History from Howard University, and a BA from Florida International University in Humanities. She has worked at several museums and cultural institutions including Birmingham Museum of Art, Hampton University Museum, Library of Congress and the National Gallery of Art. Jeffreen held fellowships at Ithaca College in the Art History department and in the Cartoon and Caricature Division at Library of Congress as a Swann Foundation Fellow. Jeffreen is a Chief Executive Community and Culture Fellow alum, a program facilitated by National Arts Strategies.

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