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Even if you don’t know his name or his face, the art of Ivey Hayes is well-known around our area. But perhaps even more impressive than his paintings are the disability he’s overcome to make them and the attitude that fuels his talent.

"It’s not a job, but a joy," Hayes said.

Hayes said he realized his talent for art as a second grader at Rocky Point Elementary in Pender County taking up painting a year later. By high school he was selling portraits.

"Art was something I enjoyed doing," he said. "And it took me. I didn’t take it."

After college, time as a teacher, a soldier and a cop, Hayes came back to Wilmington and worked in a factory before rheumatoid arthritis forced him to quit. As the illness gnarled his hands and made it difficult to walk, Hayes turned back to art as therapy, letting the paintings give him experiences he could not enjoy physically.

"So I’m enjoying in a different sense the experience of being a golfer, being a bird," he said. "It really turned into a love affair like never before, because the Lord began to show me things that I never saw before."

But Hayes says he fought God’s plan by painting portraits until he says the Lord took him on a spiritual experience that changed everything; showing him faceless black figures working and living in what Hayes calls distorted perspective.

"I’m very thankful that the Lord wouldn’t leave me alone," he said, "because I look around today and see what he’s done for me in my life… it’s very wonderful, because I use it to help his people."

That may be how many people know him best. Hayes often creates art for local festivals; his paintings fetching tens of thousands of dollars at auction for charity.

"I’ve asked God to help me to help his people," Hayes said. And that, Hayes says, is what inspires him. "Even with a disability, I intend to give it everything I can give. This is a way of using my artwork to show the Lord and the people that I appreciate what he’s given me, because it’s not about me."

Hayes says he gives so much to charity, because he believes in helping people reach worthwhile goals that make a positive difference in the community.

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5 Comments on "Local artist overcomes disability to deliver ‘gift from God’"

2015 years 10 months ago

I have seen this mans art work, it is awesome! Nothing but pure talent!

2015 years 10 months ago

Ivey Hayes is an Outstanding artist, we have had several opportunities to view his artwork, and have had the rare pleasure to auction off some of his work for charity.
We will Be offering another one of his fantastic artworks ( original oil on canvas ) in our auction gallery on friday feb 8th @ 6:30pm.
This is a large oil on canvas entitled “Fish Festival” dated 06 , this will be a Rare opportuntiy for the many admirers of his fantastic works of art.
We Will be accepting absentee & phone bids for those unable to attend.

Barbara Unes
2015 years 10 months ago

I have one of his posters hanging in my classroom because I am so inspired by the wonderful color. I am taking my 7th grade students to the computer lab this week to do research on Ivey Hays.

2015 years 10 months ago

I used to work with Ivy Hayes when he was at Federal Paper on 23rd street and I got to know him personally as a kind and gentle man…
YOU GOOOOOOOO IVEY and God bless you

Deborah Butler
2015 years 10 months ago

I have met Ivey and heard him tell the story of his spiritual life. Ivey’s early work was very exacting and precise…virtually photographic. He told me how he didn’t want to paint in the bold colorful style that has brought him commercial success, rather the Lord told him that he was going to paint in this manner. It was sometime later, after 6 years or so of personal struggle and unhappiness at this new form of expression, that he was stricken with crippling rheumatoid arthritis. He tells a very moving story.


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