Hayley Ferber

Artist Q&A with Hayley Ferber

Hayley Ferber is an artist, educator, curator, and contemporary arts leader living in Brooklyn, New York. In her personal artistic practice, Ferber creates artist’s books with suminagashi paper marbling, watercolor painting, embroidery and printmaking exploring nautical themes. With a BS from New York University in Studio Art, an MAT from the Rhode Island School of Design in Art & Design Education and over 10 years of teaching experience, Ferber’s professional mission is to facilitate and support creative opportunities in the arts. As Deputy Director of Chashama, a non-profit that repurposes unused real estate into artist studios and exhibition spaces, she supports a creative community of multidisciplinary artists.

“Chase”, mixed media, 4 x 6 to 4 x 24 in | 10 x 15 to 10 x 61 cm, 2021

Who is your favorite artist of all time?

My favorite artist of all time is Kiki Smith. I’m amazed by all the different mediums she works with from printmaking to photography to textiles to sculpture and appreciate the universality of her content exploring the human condition.

How did you become a professional artist?

I studied painting and drawing at NYU as an undergrad and found my way to book and print making about 10 years later. I teach and curate and feel that all of these practices are closely linked. I also work as Deputy Director of Chashama, a non-profit where I support a multidisciplinary group of artists with free presentation space and subsidized studio rentals. 

What are the influences and inspirations in your work?

I am greatly inspired by the sea. There is something about the mystery and adventure that lies beneath the waves, this whole other universe full of beauty. As Henry B. Culliver describes in The Book of Old Ships, “… the ship, combines all the elements of aesthetic fundamentals; that it is in fact inherently a work of art, replete with line, colour, form, atmosphere. And for the perfect setting of this work of art, intensifying its beauty and romance, is the ever-present, ever-changing mystery of the sea.”

Hayley Ferber, portrait by Andrew Hockenberry.

How is your work different than everything else out there?

My work is made from a number of components, it really comes together over time. Carving a rubber plate to be used for printing, hand making/ marbling paper to print on, choosing a structure, anything from a 3D tunnel book to a leather bound long-stitch. Each element is carefully considered and integral to the story.

When is a piece finished for you?

One of the things I love about bookmaking is that a piece is often finished for me when I tie off a square knot after my final stitch. After all the prepping and piecing together, just like that, it is done. For printmaking I often stop at a point where I have realized that I’ve perhaps gone one step too far- that’s when it’s time to stop!

What’s different about your current body of work?

My current body of work is more holistic, I’ll be creating handmade and marbled papers that will be used in artist’s books that are in self contained wrappers. I want the viewer to have an entire experience of opening an enclosure to find an artwork that takes them on a journey. I’m experimenting with less traditional book structures as well.

“Leather Long Stitch Journals”, mixed media, 5 x 7 in | 13 x 18 cm, 2021

Tell us about a few of your career highlights or moments that have greatly affected your career?

One of my greatest career highlights has been participating in ChaNorth’s Artist Residency last summer. Having a month to focus on making art upstate in the country was an invaluable experience. I had the time and space to experiment with new processes bringing my work to a deeper level.

What’s coming up for you?

Over the next year I will be making new work and setting up an online shop on my website at www.hayleyferber.com. I will be teaching paper marbling and bookmaking workshops at the Pelham Art Center, KinoSaito Art Center, and Gallery North, where you can also find some of my books for sale. I am also curating two exhibitions, a group show at Equity Gallery in NYC in March and an online exhibition in partnership with the New York Artist’s Circle next fall. 

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out today?

Make connections and network, you never know what one conversation can lead to.

Who are some of your favorite underappreciated artists that you don’t think get enough attention?

I would say book and paper artists in general, I love seeing books included in exhibitions. But I’ve also curated a number of talented artists whose work I’d like to see getting more attention including Maggie Puckett, Matthew Wood, Andrew Hockenberry, Bradley Wood, Rachel Gisela Cohen, Claudia Alvarez, and Terry Rosenberg to name a few.

“Vessels”, mixed media, 5 x 7 in | 13 x 18 cm, 2021

To learn more about Hayley and her work, please visit www.HayleyFerber.com.