Press Kit for “Saving Lives”

A Watercolor Exhibition by Jonalyn Fincher

Gallery Location 2023

Downtown Exeter
Foundation Art Spaceon the River Side
111R Water Street, Exeter, NH 
Parking – Robert H. Stewart Waterfront Park.
Dates: July 2023, Thursday – Saturday
Thur (4 – 8), Fri (4 – 8), Sat (1 – 5)
Grand Opening – Sat. July 1, 1-5 pm
18:81 Band – Sat. July 15, 1 – 5 pm
Live Harp Duo – Sat. July 22, 1 -3 pm
18:81 Band – Sat. July 29, 1 – 5 pm
Jonalyn Fincher selfie copy
Torrey09 gallery larger 2 copy


As a public speaker and author, Jonalyn Fincher has drawn thousands to listen to her healthy perspectives on culture, sexuality, and religion. Curly-haired, Mexican-Polish, California-raised, Southern-educated, Jonalyn blends uncommon ingredients into a diverse and cultured perspective. Drawing from her degrees in History, English, and Philosophy of Religion, Jonalyn speaks with an intuitive understanding of people’s struggles. With 15 years as a pastor and 10 as a painter, she now works as a Pastor-Painter. 

When asked about her past, Jonalyn says, “I was raised in a very respectable, but restrictive community. Kinda like a cult but without the Kool-Aid. I learned to blindly trust others at the expense of myself. Healing required I relearn what trust meant by looking for better mentors.  I was considered dangerous because I disagreed with ‘The. Only. Way.’ I did reject the cult’s idols, but I never gave up on God. He kept shining a light that led me out of that suffocating life.”

Jonalyn credits those challenging years for shaping her clear-headed approach today. “Because of those struggles, I developed new strengths in my recovery tools—friendship, grief, and careful thinking about worldviews. As a bonus I also notice abusive authority swifter than most.”

“Saving Lives” is Jonalyn’s first solo show in New Hampshire. A year in the making, Jonalyn paints watercolor portraits, scenes and still-life that capture the untold stories of the COVID years. She wants to invite people to enter into the memories with beauty and gentleness, especially with ourselves.  Invitations for written and drawn response will conclude the exhibition along with Jonalyn’s watercolor landscapes and still-life available for purchase, many painted along the Seacoast where she lives.

When interviewed about her painting journey, Jonalyn says, “Having my first son awakened me to this gift that was just sitting there, untouched.  Though I painted in my teens, I only dabbled. Once I had a toddler tugging at my shoelaces, I decided to jump into a formal watercolor class. The birth of my second son, however, helped me finally unpack and confront my past. His little life fueled up my courage to protect my boys better. I stopped navigating disruptive people and suddenly found buckets of emotional energy to pour into painting.”

You can find her paintings displayed at art galleries, boutiques, and shops across the country. Her custom cards can be found locally at Applecrest, The Willow, Kay’s Cafe, and September Sky. And her online shop and articles on beauty, healing, and friendship can be found at website When not painting, Jonalyn enjoys planting perennials and yanking weeds in her garden. She’s often spotted deep in conversation with her husband and sons as they walk along the tidal river.

Additional biography information with video here.

Backstory of "Saving Lives"

“The little pictures a peasant paints on the walls of his house to beautify it 
are of more value to know the soul of a people than the pictures in art galleries.”

–Elizabeth Goudge

No one wants to revisit COVID. We are all happy to move forward into the new normal. And yet, we all bear marks from those years. How do we talk about those marks without anxiety strangling us? How do we gently awaken to what we have done to each other without shame twisting our stomachs?

As an author, words welcome me into a safe, happy place. I have written books that healed me from past trauma. I have written sermons to teach audiences how to heal from spiritual abuse. But to process COVID, I found paintings could reveal what words could not.  Painting the stories permitted me to plumb a deeper well of understanding. 

And what did happen to us? Our language reveals it, “When COVID hit.” We often mean punched or slapped as the lockdowns and bewilderment sliced across our lives. In 2019, I was living in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, with my husband and two sons. During the COVID years, we moved to New England and tried to find a new community. With my training as a historian, I studied the impact of COVID in these two regions, as well as in California (where I was raised). I began to paint what I saw. 

I noticed many stories missing from the public narrative. These people honored me by sharing, and then permitted me to paint their marginalized stories. If you listen, you’ll hear from real life people. These are the scenes I would paint on my walls and teach my children to understand the COVID years. I admire them as samples of the thousands of unsung and unseen heroes who endured shaming, dismissal, cancellation or termination.

During COVID this slogan inundated all of us, “Masks save lives.” I decided to rely on the image of a mask as a metaphor for these years and all the regulations that came with them. After 20 years of non-profit work, I’m confident that telling our stories saves lives in ways masks could not.

“Saving Lives” reveals the stories of what happened, not what should have happened. This exhibition is not complete. I continue to listen for unrepresented stories. You can hear my call for stories in my Instagram reel here. And “Saving Lives” will conclude with a space to write or draw more inspiration for paintings. 

I hope all who come will allow these pictures to remind them of their own story during the COVID years. I created this exhibition as an invitation to consider how much important reflection work is still necessary if we are to heal and move forward from the corona years.

Sample of Paintings and Wall Placard from “Saving Lives”

22Weight Please22 by Jonalyn Fincher scaled
original watercolor by Jonalyn Fincher, all rights reserved

“Weight, Please”

How much does a mask weigh? Masks were easy to put on. Nearly all of us knew what it felt like to wear one. We all knew the slogan, “Mask save lives.” We heard our neighbors telling our children when they weren’t wearing their masks properly. We learned the types of masks that were better than others. And we masked up.

What did we gain by wearing a mask? We have heard that narrative. 

What did we lose by wearing a mask?

Did the mask’s purpose shift from protection to obedience? Was the mask necessary for our children? What about grandparents and their grandchildren? How was mask wearing harder as time passed?

Are we brave enough to ask and sit with the answers?


All painted images used in print must include:
"Original watercolor by Jonalyn Fincher, all rights reserved."