Contribution

This poster was made by artist Brooke Fischer for the Creative Action Network

I start each day when Gracie and Nikki, our pups, belly alarms go off. Gracie ever so softly licks my face until one eye opens. She then sits and stares at me until the other eye opens, by then her joyfulness has willed my body to move off the bed. Nikki is already dancing in front of her dish awaiting what I do believe is the highlight of her day. I simultaneously put food in their dishes, fill their water bowl and push the button on the coffee pot, not necessarily in that order. With my first cup of coffee in hand I then do what I believe is the most important thing of the day. I say, “God, thank you.” I take a minute to let my surroundings and all I have in my life sink in, and then I say, “Let me be open to learning and growing today. Let me be a force for good and let all I do be from selfless contribution.” That’s a tall order, but I figure if I can come even close to living each day like that, I’m living pretty well.

The corona virus. It’s not easy to focus on much of anything else. It’s 24/7 information overload and I’m pretty sure I’ve learned all there is to know about the proper way to wash my hands, the lifespan of the virus on hard surfaces, and the right and wrong way to wear a face mask, among other things. Of course like many creatives most of my events and projects have been cancelled. Unless the governor wants someone to live paint at one of his press conferences…um I don’t think my phone will be ringing anytime soon. Empowering girls just isn’t what people are thinking about. Understandably. Most disappointing is having to postpone the holocaust project I’ve been working on for the past six months. Noticing the women survivors still living in Broward County. It’s heartbreaking knowing they will go unnoticed or put “on hold” for even one more day. I know in my heart I will still make the project happen, but I can’t help but wonder until we get through this difficult time, how do I contribute? Especially when what I contribute doesn’t really seem to hold weight when literally the world has been held captive by this virus?

I’ll start with what I’m not doing. I will not contribute by adding to the stress and fear that so many people are feeling each day. This includes contributing my unsolicited opinion on social media. Nor will I soak up the opinions of others, my screen time is down 70%. I will not feel sorry for myself. There is no space for me to complain. I am reading more than ever, sucking up all the knowledge I can gather on all the things I never have time for. I’m going back to day one with Girl Noticed when no one knew what Girl Noticed was and I had to creatively figure out how to move people to notice. I’m excited for the possibilities ahead. I’m excited about the idea that I can make what I had originally set out to do, even better.

I have reinvented myself so many times in my life, but this time I realize no matter how long this thing lasts, no matter how much things change, I don’t need to reinvent myself because I finally know who I am. The force, the power all lies within. Nothing can change that. Life and all of its circumstances will happen. Things may not go the way I planned, but there is a plan. I don’t need to know it. I do know, that god willing, I’ll wake up tomorrow to puppy kisses, coffee and a prayer. Let me for just one more day  be open to learning and growing. Let me be a force for good and let all I do be from selfless contribution.

Be safe and be well. 

Thank you for noticing.

Painting “Notice Me” on the first Girl Noticed Mural in Hollywood, Florida. The next day early in the morning the city would paint over it thinking it was graffiti.

5 years ago I asked you to notice, and you did. You noticed an artist who possessed a lofty idea of spreading the powerful message of a girls worth. The idea to create 50 murals in 50 states in charcoal that would fade off the wall sending the message, if you left a girl unnoticed her value and self worth would fade away, just as the mural did.

Originally the project was to last 3 years, and during those initial years I had the empowering and uplifting support of Elizabeth Sanjuan, who traveled with me not only as the project’s photographer but as a friend who cracked the whip and made sure I stayed focused on my goals. Without Elizabeth and the support of her husband Ken Brown and Sharon Lane from Gallery 2014 in Hollywood, Fl. Girl Noticed may have never found its wings, and for that I have the utmost gratitude.

Of course anyone who has ever set out on an endeavor, especially one that is even bigger than themselves, knows that along the way things change, evolve, and often turn into something beyond what you ever could have imagined.

Girl Noticed did just that. With each state I visited, 15 to date, I discovered the possibilities that were bursting to be developed out of this project. Workshops, lectures, scholarships, communities coming together and holding public events to empower their girls were all created from an original yet simple idea of using art to spread a message. I became aware of the impact that could be made through the testimonies of girls and women who would pass by as I created the murals. Stories of how they often felt unnoticed and the empowering and inspiring message a mural would leave on their community. Stories of how they were witnessing the creation of something they never thought possible. I met powerful women already working tirelessly in their community for their community. Their only reward was knowing they might make a difference in the lives of others. By the way ladies, you’ve made a difference in mine.

Calcagno Cullen founder of Wave Pool Gallery and Sheryl Rajbhandari Executive Director of Heartfelt Tidbits in Camp Washington, Ohio
Deirdre Love, Executive Director of Teens with a Purpose, Norfolk, Virginia
Bathsheba Smithen, Executive Director Of Cage Free Voices, LLC (listen to her podcast here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/cage-free-voices-radio/id1156230609 )
Battle-Lockhart Tajala, Founder and Executive Director of Phenomenal Young Women, Inc
(Order her just released book “Purpose Pushers” here: Aikal Beaute https://purposedpublishingcompany.com/tajalalockhart/

Just a few pictured above, but the list of what these particular women do in their communities and beyond can not be contained in a caption. Truly inspiring.

There have been 35 murals created so far and each mural event has become more impactful. For example: The last mural created in Jackson, Mississippi was made possible by the Greater Jackson Arts Council. A local poet and civil rights Activist Margaret Walker Alexander and a silhouette of a girl reading, representing the girls who passed through the entrance of the school each day, were drawn larger than life on the exterior of Hardy Middle School. In what was considered an underserved community local officials and community leaders gathered to hold workshops for the female students and also held a beautiful mural unveiling that celebrated not only Miss Walker but the entire school and community. The Margaret Walker Alexander Foundation gave the girls journals with the promise of teaching them how to journal and creating an area by the mural for them to gather and hold a journaling club. Something that had never existed before at this school. Not only the girls but a community who typically would appear to go unnoticed were shown how valued they actually are. I know that if the perspective of just one girl was altered on what her future could hold, my job was done, and done well.

So many of you have been following and supporting since year 1 and yes this is year 5, well past the 3 year mark. But how do you stop something that keeps growing and becoming more with each experience? You don’t. You set even loftier goals and you begin to believe anything is possible. This year I hope to create murals in three more states. I have begun the process of launching a local endeavor recognizing and hearing the voices of the surviving women of the Holocaust that live in my own community. I’d like to take the project outside of the United States.

Your help has gotten me this far, and I thank you. Here’s to an empowering and inspiring year ahead.

Age is an attitude.

At 51 I’m climbing ladders and still setting impossible goals. Correction… others say they’re impossible, I say what’s the point in having a goal if it doesn’t have a bit of a dream attached to it? Sure SMART goals are practical, but give me a dumb goal any day. It’s way more fun and sexy!

Pratico’s mural at The Frank Museum, “Just Being Me”.

Anyone, at any age can dream and then work towards that dream. That’s where the “smart” comes into play. Creating habits that match up to what we want to achieve. An attitude of gratitude and believing anything is possible, goes a long way.

No matter what your age you are never too young or too old to dream, to have success or to go after what you want. The following girls and women I’m sure would tell you they set goals. I would imagine many of them were Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely, but they went far beyond that. They dreamed things and reached levels that most people would have at some point said “impossible”.

#JazzJennings was 6 years old when she gave an interview to Barbara Walters for a television special about transgender children. She’s continued to educate the world about what it means to be transgender. An LGBTQ activist and YouTube star she has a show on TLC called I Am Jazz and co-authored a book by the same name. Now 17, she regularly speaks out about issues affecting the trans community.

#NadiaComăneci a gymnast from Romania scored seven perfect 10.0’s and won three gold medals at the Olympics at age 14.

#MalalaYousafzai is a Pakistani human rights advocate known for her activism for education for girls. At age 15 years old, a Taliban gunman shot her in an assassination attempt in retaliation for her work. At the age of 17, she received the Nobel Peace Prize becoming the youngest Nobel laureate.

#YaraShahidi is an 18-year-old actress and activist who uses her platform to advocate for important issues like diversity in Hollywood, girls’ education and voter turnout. Her new initiative Eighteen x ’18, encourages more young people to vote in the upcoming elections.

#JKRowling was 30 years old when she finished the first manuscript of Harry Potter

#Oprah was 32 when she started her talk show, which has become the highest-rated program of its kind

#RosaParks was 42 when she refused to obey the bus driver’s order to give up her seat to make room for a white passenger

#SuzanneCollins was 46 when she wrote “The Hunger Games”

#DianaNyad at age 64 became the first person confirmed to swim from Cuba to Florida without the aid of a shark cage. The journey was 110 miles long and took her 53 hours straight.

#GrandmaMoses, called a “genuine American primitive” became one of the country’s most famous painters and turned out her first painting at the age of 76.

#DorothyDavenhillHirsch went to The North Pole, at age 89

#GladysBurrill ran her 5th full marathon, at age 92

The list is long, amazing and endless…

My dream? I dream of all girls and women knowing their value. What do you dream of? You don’t have to want to change the world. Maybe your dreams are more personal or seem too small to make a list of greatness? I would be willing to bet there is someone who will see what you have accomplished and say, “wow, I wish I could be like her.” That’s the very best thing we could hope for. Setting a clear and beautiful example for the girls who are searching for their dream.

The wrong wall came down.

I think you probably get my reference. If not you can comment below and I’ll explain, but in all seriousness we knew this wall would be knocked down before I even started to paint it. Why? Why wouldn’t I paint another wall. Something more permanent? Because nothing is permanent. Everything changes and it is our responsibility to notice while we can.

Demolition of Girl Noticed Mural in Norfolk, VA

Last year I had the privilege of painting a mural bright in colors and grand in size in the Neon District of Norfolk, VA, but I don’t believe it was the painting itself that touched peoples lives. Instead, it was the 4 women I painted, their energy, their beauty, who they are on the inside that so beautifully reflected on their faces, and made this mural so special. The words painted beside them were words used in their nominations. That is what penetrated the lives of those who passed it each day. These 4 women represent the women in their community just like them. We look at them and see empowered women and it gives us hope.

Yoga session that was held in front of the finished mural.

The wall was knocked down this weekend. We knew it would be. It’s part of the message of this project. Did you notice? What if you didn’t notice? What if you never saw the wall and experienced the power behind this mural? Did you take time to notice? Do you notice the women in your community and the value they bring to each and every one of us?

Thank you to those who did notice. Thank you to the Neon District and their hard work in making this mural happen. – till we meet again.

Inclusivity + Diversity = Home

Last night at ArtServe, Fort Lauderdale’s VIP event titled “HOME” guests were greeted as they walked through the door by a gentleman who boastfully exclaimed “Welcome, welcome home.”

A mix of art, music, spoken word and a creative laboratory brought a diverse group of artists together to show the community how they would make a difference and leave there legacy.

I had the pleasure of expanding an existing Girl Noticed mural that noticed a young woman Radha holding a sign she made saying “I HAVE A VOICE”, to include the voices of many. A desk was placed in front of the mural, prompting you to use your words and express your thoughts, along with a takeaway postcard that said “I MATTER”.

I painted live a large canvas in front of the mural announcing Girl Noticed’s next local undertaking. A year long multigenerational collaborative event honoring female holocaust survivors.

In the midst of all of this incredible inspiration I was asked by one person “Why is white not on the wall?” I smiled, and pointed to US, YOU, TOGETHER, and said “You are on the wall, everyone is.” The groups I have highlighted are voices that have historically been neglected, and are presently diminished in our society, often left unheard. I actually knew the night would not go by without being asked that very question. I am pleased that person chose to ask it. I am pleased we both could be heard.

It was a wonderful night full of hope and inspiration for EVERYONE.

Welcome Home.

#artserve #fortlauderdale #home #art #artist #diversity #inclusive #inspire #hope

Move

My journey to becoming me. How I turned a dream into reality when the voices in my head, and some outside of my head said I was crazy. All I had to do was move.

Video c/o Mike Huet of Lime Digital Agency.

AAF CreativeZen was kind enough to invite me to speak at the Arts and Crafts Social Club in The Hive section of Flagler Village in Downtown Fort Lauderdale, FL.

You can find #AAFCreativeZen events every *2nd Friday Morning* of the month *For FREE*, but for those that weren’t able to attend check out #LoriPratico sharing her story. #Choose954

Displaying Diversity

On August 22, 2019 ArtServe will celebrate community with a VIP reception called HOME. In preparation of their season unveiling I will be expanding the popular Girl Noticed mural that was painted last July in the lobby. My intention is to make the mural a multicultural installation where all cultures are represented equally.

I invite you to suggest the diverse groups you would like to see represented by commenting on this post. We all have a voice. Are we listening to everyone? 

During the event as well as the weeks surrounding the event you will have the opportunity to leave your distinct voice at the mural. Stop by ArtServe (1350 E. Sunrise Blvd. Fort Lauderdale, FL) starting August 19, 2019 and find out how.

#diversity #now #multiculturalism

Let her shine.

What might happen if we stopped and noticed a girls value?

Purpose makes itself known when we are very young. Think back to the pure dreams and desires you had as a kid, before other people told you how you needed to be, what you should focus on and what was more practical, stable and acceptable. Opportunity surrounds us. What might happen if we encourage a girl to be herself and accept herself just the way she is? When she notices her value and embraces who she is she opens herself up to discovery. She opens herself up to opportunity. When “Just Being Me” becomes the perfect way to be, she can be whatever she chooses. The simple act of noticing releases her from playing small. She becomes extraordinary, and she shows up in life as her best self. Notice her. Value her. Lift her up and celebrate her for being exactly who she is. You see she really can do anything she pleases, and she doesn’t need anyone’s permission to do it. She doesn’t have to conform to what anyone thinks she should be. She doesn’t have to look how anyone thinks she should look. She can live boldly without taking on anyone else’s fear or opinions. She can trust herself to know what she needs, what excites and motivates her. She can rise, build, create and magically orchestrate her life. She can live a life unapologetically herself.

And us? What about us? We will all be lit up by her brilliance.

Girl Noticed.