Artist Faye Hedera

100 Faces of Conway helps Faye Hedera meet her community

Conway Institute of Music

Faye Hedera is using “100 Faces of Conway” to meet her community and it turned into a labor of love.

During the Conway Art Walk in March, I sauntered downtown to enjoy the art festivities.

As I wondered, I walked into UCA Downtown and encountered a young lady with some stunning portraits. Even more, the portraits were of people here in Conway.

She was visiting with Pete Tanguay, owner of The Max Event Venue. So I walked up to see what was going on. There I met artist Faye Hendra.

She explained to me about her 100 Faces of Conway Project. After the event, I went to her website to learn more. She is using art to tell stories of some of Conway’s most loved people.

I had to know more.

So I asked if she would answer a few questions about her project and she obliged.

Faye Hedera

In this article, we learn more about the 100 Faces of Conway Project and a little more about artist Faye Hedera.

Why did you decide to do the 100 Faces of Conway project?

Simply put, it was a way for me to connect with the community here. As someone who has moved to a lot of different places, I’m familiar with the long gap between arriving and feeling like you’re part of the city.

The project was originally just me taking a step outside of my comfort zone and getting to know Conway, but as it’s developing, it’s turning into a surprising act of love toward perfect strangers. At the end of the day I know that the time I’m investing into the project will be re-invested into not only the people I’m painting, but the girls at Haven Conway as well. 

Can you tell us a little bit about how you are doing the portraits? 

Local people are invited to nominate community members who are making an impact here, so each portrait begins in a really positive way. After the participants agree to be painted, they send me photos of themselves and a story of an experience they’ve had in Conway.

I place them in a numbered line to be painted, then simply go down the line of portraits. It helps me stay organized and keep track of who I’m painting when. Once all 100 are completed, we will have a gallery exhibition featuring the full project.

At that time, the participants will be able to purchase their portraits directly from Haven Conway at a price that’s affordable to them. I’ve never seen more than 5 or 6 faces together at one time since I place them in safe storage in small batches, so it’s almost beyond my imagination to know what it will be like to see 100 of them lined up. I will say that seeing just a few together is quite powerful, especially since everyone has been so open in sharing their personal stories. It makes me care deeply about them to learn about even a small part of their lives.

When I tell them it’s an honor to paint their portrait, I truly mean it, because I feel that they have entrusted me with something precious and a bit vulnerable. I work very hard to try to capture them accurately and make them feel seen on a deeper level. 

How did you decide the medium you wanted to use? 

I chose the surface first, which are raw wood panels. I wanted the wood grain to show through so that each portrait has a unique color and texture, plus I knew that the portraits would be created in a contemporary style, with only the faces in focus, and wood seemed to lend itself to the style of art I’m creating. Acrylic is very fast-drying and blends beautifully, so I chose that medium over oil, which can take up to six months to fully cure. I’ve given myself a fairly strict timeline of when I’d like to complete all 100 faces, so acrylic was perfect for a limited timeline. 

How are the “faces” chosen for the project? 

The faces are almost exclusively chosen through nominations, with the exception of a few people that I have personally invited based on interactions I’ve had with them. Ultimately, though, I leave the selection process up to other people.

Since I’m new here and know next to nobody, it was important for me to allow other people to determine who is making a positive impact here. Most of the people are nominated multiple times, so that informs me that their engagement is far-reaching, even if they themselves don’t realize it.

I’m at the end of my nomination list, with only about 15 or so spots left, so the response has been really wonderful so far. It makes me wish I had done more because I know that some incredible people will be missed when the list is full.  

When do you anticipate all the faces will be done? 

My initial goal is July, and I’m well on my way to meeting that goal. The exhibition itself will likely not take place until November. That will allow me enough time to create a small book that will contain all the portraits and their full stories and biographies. I’m hoping that at the end of the project, love is multiplied a hundred times. 

Wrapping it up

You can learn more about the project and see other portraits at Faye Hedera’s website: FayeHedera.com. You can follow along as she paints these portraits on her Facebook page and her Instagram.

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