Anne Hayes is an accomplished artist who lives in her own home on a quiet Eden Prairie cul-de-sac with her dog, T-Bone, a black lab/St. Bernard mix. “Much better than a husband,” she quips. “He doesn’t talk back.”
Hayes creates mosaic garden stones made of concrete, river rock and glass, often including a Bible passage or similar wise words at their centers. She says that her first experience with the art was a stepping-stone kit given to her when she was a teenager. “I made it, and it was ugly,” Hayes deadpans. “Ugly because it was my first one,” she adds with a laugh. Her mother, Ruth Hayes, says, she kept at it, adding “and she clearly has an eye for design.”
Hayes designs and makes the stones in her home and sells them at art fairs and at Lotus Lake Gifts in Chanhassen, where she also works two days a month.
Lotus Lake Gifts owner, Katie Nordby, met Hayes about two weeks before Nordby (a former special education teacher) was set to open her gift store in the summer of 2016. “I went to a garage sale, and the lawn was covered with these beautiful garden stones,” she says. “I saw Anne sitting in the garage with her personal care attendant and I asked her. ‘Did you make these?’” When Hayes answered she had, Nordby decided on the spot: “I’m going to sell your stuff in my shop, and you’re going to work for me.”
While there are many unique aspects of Hayes as an artist and human being—notably her creativity, sense of humor and biting, sassy wit, not to mention her love of Jesus and the Beach Boys—she is also a person who lives with a significant disability. When she was 7 years old, Hayes was hit by a car while riding her bicycle. Her father, she says, saved her life by donating blood. She had a lengthy hospitalization and months of rehabilitation. “I lost my speech,” she says. “I lost everything.”
Dysarthria (difficult or unclear articulation of speech) and occasional seizures persist. Personal care attendants help Hayes with daily living activities. On occasion, they or Hayes’ mother assist her with some of the hands-on work for her art, although Hayes takes charge of choosing supplies and text, and deciding and executing design.
There’s something Hayes likes to make clear. “I’m all here,” she says, pointing to her head, “even though I might not look like it.” She resents peoples’ assumptions that her speech and motor control issues translate to cognitive disability.
Spend five minutes with Hayes and the error of this judgment is clear. It's also evident during her bike safety presentations. “The one time I didn’t wear my helmet was when I had the accident,” she tells children.
It's well worth meeting Hayes if you have the opportunity, noting that she's a person who survived a life-changing event with wit, courage, grace, and—art.
Find Anne Hayes’ garden stones at Lotus Lake Gifts & Home Décor.