July 13, 2024

Rehoboth Artist Uses Puddingstone in Homage to a Collection Celebrating The Heart of Massachusetts at Rare State House Exhibit


Hollis Machala is a Rehoboth artist and a lifelong resident behind the 26 piece collection of paintings based off the official symbols of Massachusetts that will hang in the State House Senate Lobby for the month of April. Senator Pacheco is sponsoring Machala in this rare exhibit opportunity which only happens every few years.

The idea for the collection came to Hollis in 2020 after sitting outside her studio among her puddingstone rock garden. Each painting has the puddingstone incorporated on the canvas. There are still about 30 more official symbols that I haven’t painted yet, she said.

“I’m passionate about the icons that make up each state but I wanted to start with my home state. There are colorful cultures and stories in these historic icons; some fact and some fiction. I like the process of discovering and sharing them both in history and in paint.”

Her contemporary take on realism, she describes, as careful research and planning mixed with wild exploration and she exclusively paints with a palette knife.

Hollis went to the former Mount Ida College for a degree in interior design, where her passion for architectural illustration using watercolor was how she started a another passion for using such bold colors in her current acrylic paintings.

“I paint acrylics like a watercolorist on steroids, usually light to dark, not dark to light. When I paint with acrylic I’m thinking like a watercolorist and that’s when the wildness comes out and the paintings become more expressive to the nature of the subjects, colorful and contemporary.”

Machala describes her style as riotously colorful; enticingly textured in a surreal and joyful way. HEART is in the details —those that share that same amount of sentiment for the subjects she paints can feel the magic. Her favorite subjects to paint are no secret, as they make a reoccurring appearance.

“As a lifelong New Englander, this place is my muse. I love creating work that celebrates our home, like moose, native birds, iconic area foods and desserts, and portraits of notable New Englanders. I paint recognizable things, but spin them through my filter, which often means abstracting colors and adding colorful swirls of paint. Additionally I like to incorporate a material connected to the story of each painting. For me, it begins with storytelling. I am a sentimental nerd who loves history and research. I build a little world around my subject before I ever start painting. It’s important to me to create work with meaning that celebrates my subject. The research is always different, but sometimes this means traveling to an apple orchard to see what the tree of the state apple looks like or combing the internet and local library’s to find out that Deborah Sampson had brown eyes and brown hair.

This research all helps me intentionally engineer the way my work feels, because I want you, the viewer or owner, to feel that same thing the instant you see it.” I also love the process of discovery with using materials that connect to the paintings. I’ve additionally worked with guitar strings, sand, fabric, jewelry, plastic, and paper fortunes.”

There are a few paintings that may not make the exhibit at the State House because of the large size of them. The 36”x 36” painting, Cranberry Surprise, is also being donated for bid April 3rd at the 6pm Loon Pond Lodge Fundraiser in Lakeville to help a local Middleboro family recover from a tragic fire. Hollis says, “I want to help the people of Mass whenever I can and I think that art is uniquely able to help us heal in tough times. I hope that perhaps the CEO of Ocean Spray or a local lover of art can swoop in and save the day because the painting is valued at $5,400. All the proceeds will go to the family.”

“I’m honored to be able to share this collection of paintings that celebrates the place I call home. It will be especially fantastic to see the paintings in the very place the symbols were passed into law.”
After its debut at the State House, the HEART of MA exhibits at the James Arnold Mansion in New Bedford for a month show in May. The reception is scheduled for May 2nd 5:30-7:00pm if you would like to meet Hollis in person.

For custom commission inquiries, email machalarts@gmail.com  For more information, visit www.machalarts.com  or @HollisMakesArt on Facebook.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

Truly local news delivered to every home in town