When Faye Hedera committed to the 100 Faces of Conway project, she had lived in the city for seven months and knew only a handful of people.
It was an inspiration found while drinking coffee one morning in her new Conway home that she followed through on. Suddenly, she had tasked herself with painting dozens upon dozens of people who made up the fabric of a city she barely knew.
Hedera, with roots in central Oklahoma and east Texas, came to Conway with her husband and children in 2022 from south Florida. A newly discovered illness encouraged Hedera to move closer to family. She and her family discovered Conway through a Google search and thought it a unique place to live. Her first day in Conway came when she and her family closed on their new home.
“It was a leap of faith that we were going to choose a good place,” Hedera said. “We had these criteria, and Conway seemed to meet every one of them.”
Admittedly, her Faces project was fueled by a need to know the place she chose to raise her family was satisfactory.
Her family’s move to Conway was surrounded by trying times. In Florida, Hedera had been diagnosed with Functional Neurologic Disorder. The disorder can affect memory, concentration, cognition, and the processing of sensations. Hedera said it is common for her to experience muscle tightening that can make it difficult to walk or move for a period of time.
Before her move to Conway, Hedera worried she would be forced to give up painting.
“I thought I would never paint again, because I had lost my ability to move,” she said. “I could barely walk, I couldn’t go up our stairs. Sometimes, I would forget how to go up and down the stairs.”
Painting is more than a hobby for Hedera and the thought of losing it was troubling.
“It’s a creative expression that I have to do,” she said. “I’m not an artist that can go months at a time without painting. It’s something I have to do. I’m able to connect to what I’m creating, and it gives me a sense of purpose and structure. I can create something and let it go. For me, it’s been really healing for a lot of different things.”
Hedera was also in the middle of dealing with personal grief after her sister lost an infant child, just prior to her moving to Conway.
“It was all these things mixed up,” Hedera said. “By the time the project wrapped, I had experienced healing and felt connected to this community, and it made me want to continue to do things like this and try to add value to the community.”
Hedera’s Faces project was exhibited at the Windgate Museum of Art at Hendrix College during the summer of 2023. Proceeds from the project, totaling $13,250, were donated to the Haven House, a local nonprofit that assists abused and neglected children.
“It made me feel like I am still able to add value and beauty into the world even though I struggle sometimes,” Hedera said. “It’s given me a sense of purpose. It was a good reminder that despite my hands not working sometimes, they could still create something that would make someone’s life better.”
The project was life-affirming, Hedera said, and created an overnight bond with her new home.
“Reading all the stories and interacting with the people made me love Conway,” she said. “There were so many different facets that just made me feel an attachment and care about each person that was in the project.”
Read more in the 2024 CONWAY+ Community Profile & Resource Guide