Chasing Dragons: An Uncommon Memoir in Photographs by Bill Hayward


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Foreword by Sam Barzilay.

As a child, Bill Hayward traversed thousands of miles of American highway, peering out the window from the backseat of his father’s 1940 Chevy. On the road, Bill and his sister, Janet, embarked upon an epic journey of the imagination, making believe they were “chasing dragons” through vast, shifting landscapes. This playful, childhood undertaking has had a profound impact on the life of the prolific multimedia artist. For more than fifty years, Hayward has endeavored to bring light, through his art, to the strange and wondrous forms that lie hidden beneath the surface of things, revealing what is left over when conventions fade away.

Presented here is a stunning visual autobiography, chronicling more than five decades of artistic vision. In this impressive, autobiographical tour de force, artist Bill Hayward presents more than five decades of visual artwork alongside his own personal narrative—his musings on childhood experiences, moments of epiphany, and the fragments of literature that have inspired him along the way. Arranged in five acts, Chasing Dragons: An Uncommon Memoir in Photographs traces the evolution of Hayward’s work—from traditional portraiture to increasingly abstract and altered images, figurative paintings, dance, performance, and film.

Over the years, Hayward has turned away from objective, photographic representations, choosing instead to mine the depths of the human psyche, conveying something elemental, even primordial. Often shrouded, spooky, or distorted, these images are evidence that Hayward is both a master artist and skilled psychoanalyst. Chasing Dragons tells the story of one artist’s quest for self-discovery and new modes of expression—inspiring the same spirit in his subjects and all those who encounter his work.

Bill Hayward is a photographer, painter, filmmaker, and performance artist, whose work is inspired by the drama of living forms. To these ends, he explores the human body—its outward appearance and innermost feelings—often entering territories of vulnerability and emotional risk. Hayward’s work has been exhibited in galleries and performance centers across the United States, as well as in France and Germany, including Martin Art Gallery at Muhlenberg College (Allentown, PA), Fashion’s Night Out (NYC), Center for Performance Research (Brooklyn, NY), The Wynwood Art Fair (Miami, FL), and The Art Live Fair (Miami, FL). He is founding member of The Maine Photographic Workshops and has taught Master Classes at the International Center of Photography (NYC), Palm Beach Photographic Workshops (West Palm Beach, FL), and the Art Kane Photo Workshops (Cape May, NJ). The artist’s previous books of photography include Cat People (Doubleday, 1978) and Bad Behavior (Rizzoli, 2000). Hayward lives and in works in New York City and Montana.

Sam Barzilay serves as the Creative Director of United Photo Industries, a gallery focusing on contemporary photography that revolves around social documentary and conceptual themes. He is also the co-founder of Photoville, a modular venue built from re-purposed shipping containers, on the waterfront of New York City. In his dual capacity as curator and festival organizer, he has had the pleasure and privilege of curating photo exhibitions and lecturing on current trends in contemporary photography as far afield as China, Greece, the United States, and Japan. Over the past few years, he has served as juror, nominator, and reviewer for the Prix Pictet, Les Rencontres d’Arles, Houston FotoFest, the Google Photography Prize, the LensCulture Exposure Awards, and numerous others.

ISBN 978-0-9891704-9-9
240 pages, 10.4 x 8.5", hardcover
346 original four-color photographs


Bill Hayward