Art of empowerment: Last Friday, Aug. 2, was an interesting, art-filled day for me. I spent the day on Monhegan Island taking in, among other arts-related things, the exhibit currently on the walls of the Monhegan Museum of Art & History, “A Life Made in Art: Maud Briggs Knowlton” (more on that fine show in next week’s paper).
While I was out on Monhegan, I received a text message asking if I would be covering the opening reception of Whitefield artist Manda Hard’s show at Sheepscot General in Whitefield that evening. Sure! Why not? I am there every Friday evening anyway, eating delicious gourmet pizza during Pizza Night.
When I arrived, Sheepscot General was even busier than usual, thanks to the combination of events taking place: Pizza Night, Hard’s art reception, and the lecture on cannabidiol and farm tour presented by Dr. Dustin Sulak.
Hard’s paintings, as her website penny-prints.com describes them, are “inspired by women, from all over the world, all walks of life! From young to old, weak to bold, color, gender, race, orientation, lifestyles, and of all strengths! All women are my inspiration!”
The paintings – all of women – in Hard’s current exhibit range from the lovely, autumn-hued “Fall Girl” and blue-toned “Water Girl,” to more thought-provoking pieces, such as “Toxic Girl,” featuring the hair-framed face of a woman wearing a gas mask, and “Beautiful Survivor,” of a woman without hair, post-breast-cancer treatment. The subtitle of “Beautiful Survivor” is: “In Honor of the Many Women Facing, or Who Have Faced, this Difficult Journey.”
Other paintings, such as “Cupcake Girl” and the multicolored “Unicorn Girl,” are just plain fun.
Hard, who is 32, told me she started painting about 10 years ago when she was attending college. “I was trying to figure out who I was as a woman, who I wanted to be,” she said.
Hard said she only started sharing her art with the public about 1 1/2 years ago. Before that, she was “just painting and putting (the paintings) in the closet.”
Since she started showing her work – on both coasts, including recent shows in Palm Springs, Calif. and Hollywood – “a lot of women have started reaching out to me. They love the empowering movement.”
“I just want to empower women to be who they are, to not be afraid of expressing themselves and be passionate about what they want to be in life,” Hard said. “I want to create that movement of positivity.”
Along those lines, Hard added, “In the future, I would like to have my art be picked up by a retailer that could really share my art and empowering movement with the mass public.” As it is, Hard offers a line of merchandise – makeup pouches, notebooks, coffee mugs, etc. – featuring her inspiring images of women at her Penny Prints website. (Hard named Penny Prints, by the way, after her pug, Penny.)
Commenting on the range of women she depicts in her art, Hard said, “It’s real. It’s who we are and we should not be afraid of it.”
Hard’s art exhibit will be on the walls of the community room at Sheepscot General, located at 98 Townhouse Road in Whitefield, through Saturday, Aug. 31. Look for Hard’s upcoming show in Portland in October, with details to be announced at a later date.
(Christine LaPado-Breglia has written about the arts in both California and Maine. She is the recipient of two 2018 Critic’s Awards and a 2018 Local Columnist award from the Maine Press Association. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or write her a letter in care of The Lincoln County News, P.O. Box 36, Damariscotta, ME 04543.)