Pam Haunschild applying color to the mural.
Pam Haunschild is an example of someone who followed her parents’ wish to pursue a career in a field that could lead to gainful employment rather than her passion for art.
She got a doctorate. in Organizational Behavior by Carnegie Mellon and taught at Stanford and the University of Texas-Austin. Although she had found success in academia, she resumed her brush when she retired and moved to a house in the vicinity of the forest of Mount Ashland.
Passionate about the outdoors, Pam turned to the themes of nature and wildlife in her new vocation. His skills have evolved to the point that his work and his pedagogical know-how are in demand. She enjoyed serving as an artist in residence in several national parks during the summer months.
Pam is a passionate experimenter who uses watercolor and acrylic, sometimes in combination, and creates textures in painting, using natural objects to leave impressions, just like nature. His paintings feature vivid colors and are semi-abstract, but with still identifiable natural forms.
Pam has been an instructor for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Southern Oregon University and has provided seasonal thematic covers for many editions of OLLI’s course catalogs.
When OLLI embarked on a project to renovate the entire complex of five classrooms and member lounges on its Ashland campus at the SOU Campbell Center, Pam came to mind for producing a medium striking to illustrate the progress of fundraising rather than the oft-used “thermometer.” “
Pam applied her talents to creating a Giving Garden mural. It was designed to reflect the natural environment of the garden at the center of OLLI’s Ashland campus. She produced a black and white concept drawing showcasing a lush collection of native Oregon plants and their pollinators, which received enthusiastic approval.
The mural’s 12-by-7-foot scale was determined by the dimensions of the planned member’s living room wall – their ultimate home. There it would serve as a lasting reminder of the value of OLLI’s mission of lifelong learning and social bonds for the next generation of members.
Working on the mural in an existing classroom was an effective way for OLLI members to track fundraising progress and inspire contributions. As the classroom was being used, there were however logistical issues. Work had to be scheduled when classes were not in session. Paint spills were discouraged. And the design had to take into account that the mural would be moved to its final location.
Pam’s husband Steve Utt relied on his background designing and producing some of the exhibits at ScienceWorks (e.g., Pterosaurs: Ancient Rulers of the Skies) to recommend what would make moving a si large fresco – three lightweight aluminum panels.
First, the surfaces of the panels were prepared for the paint to adhere, and the background colors of the sky and the ground were added. Then the panels were mounted on a wall in a classroom where the painting would take place. The next step was to project the outlines of the garden elements from the original illustration onto the panels.
This paved the way for Pam and several other OLLI artists to apply color in the outlines of flora and fauna as donations were received. Once the funding was obtained, the last elements of the garden came to life.
A celebration of the renovated classrooms and members’ lounge was scheduled for March 27, 2020. Due to the pandemic, however, the celebration and use of these new facilities had to be abruptly postponed. No one expected the campus closure to last 18 months.
OLLI had hoped, with members largely vaccinated and following pandemic guidelines, that in-person classes could resume for the fall term, which begins Sept. 14. For the first time, OLLI members could have enjoyed the many upgrades to the Ashland and admire the Giving Garden mural in the member’s lounge.
The courtyard garden that inspired the mural was named the Evans Family Learning Commons in honor of the support given to the renovation by the William Evans family. But, again, there will be a delay due to the emergence of the delta variant.
Thankfully, Pam’s artistic career is in full bloom, highlighting the lesson that a delayed dream is all the sweeter when fulfilled, and that waiting time can be productive. The knowledge Pam has gained of effective business practices has certainly helped her succeed as an artist. For OLLI members and instructors, the delay in returning to in-person classes has provided a whole new way to learn and teach online.
Pam’s nature-inspired art can be seen at the Art & Soul Gallery in Ashland or online at www.pamhaunschild.com.
Anne Bellegia, a retired communications professional in the medical products industry, volunteers on OLLI’s Communications and Community Outreach Committee. For more information on OLLI and the fall semester courses, see inside.sou.edu/olli.