by Reneé Mizar
Communications Coordinator, Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley
Snatching snippets of time after work and making the most of weekends in between, Port Angeles artist Pamela Hastings has been preparing for this moment for two years.
Now, nearly 70 acrylic portraits of women later, she is ready to reveal all in “Faces and Masks,” her new solo exhibition at the Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley (MAC). Many of the portrait subjects are local, and all of them are “hot flash women,” a term coined by Hastings and with whom she shares threads of connection.
“Every woman is extraordinary, “hot,” in our own way,” she said. “When we share our stories, we learn that we are not alone in both our tragedies and triumphs.”
Hastings, who also is a doll maker, teacher and published author, said women are a common theme in her painting, writing and doll making. She said she picked the term “hot flash women” in her 40s when she began making bright and flashy dolls to “celebrate menopause instead of mourning it.”
Hastings began creating her acrylic portrait series in 2011 as part of her ongoing “Celebration of Hot Flash Women” project that celebrates “ordinary” women and those who have reinvented their lives. The project also includes dolls, stories and her self-published book “Hot Flash! A Celebration.”
“Unless we are very narcissistic, we don’t spend a lot of time looking at our own face, especially as we get older. I still imagine that I look as I did in my 30s, when my laugh lines were still erased by a good night’s sleep,” Hastings said. “Likewise, we play many roles, wear many masks during our daily life – mother, teacher, friend. To whom do we show our different selves and under what circumstances?”
In developing her solo exhibit, Hastings prepared guessing cards containing clues about each woman in portraiture, which patrons can try to match with the portrait. Also, as a component of her ongoing project, she prepared a “hot flash women” questionnaire for patrons to share information about themselves and offer feedback about the portraits.
“I hope that the audience visiting the MAC will interact with the women shown here by writing reactions to the paintings and telling your own stories about being a woman,” she said. “What would you like to share about your life’s adventures and wisdom? What would you like to know about the women shown here? What can you imagine?”
Noting images and words always exist side-by-side in her work, Hastings said she interviews all of the women she paints and has applied for a grant to publish a book on this process. Along with local women, her featured portrait subjects include friends in the Midwest, whom Hastings met through her online teaching of doll making, as well as old friends from the Northeast, where she lived for 50 years and had a long career of doing craft shows and making dolls.
Having moved to the Olympic Peninsula eight years ago, Hastings said she has been sewing, drawing and making dolls since the age of 5. She has exhibited and taught nationally, and her work can be seen in numerous books, including her self-published “Doll Making as a Transformative Process,” “Pamela’s Designing a Doll and Making Faces Inspiration Book” and “Pamela’s Paper Doll Inspiration Book,” as well as Susanna Oroyan’s instructional books “Anatomy of a Doll,” “Designing the Doll” and “Finishing the Figure.”
“Faces and Masks,” which also features nine of Hastings’s mixed media dolls, runs through Sept. 28, at the MAC Exhibit Center, 175 W. Cedar St. in Sequim. In conjunction with the exhibit, she will give a free demonstration on how to make stick dolls from 1-4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13.
For additional information about Hastings’s artwork and her “Celebration of Hot Flash Women” project, visit www.pamelahastings.com.
The MAC Exhibit Center is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Call 683-8110 or visit www.macsequim.org for details.