When six teenage girls, most who have never met each other, are asked to work separately but together…who knew what the result would be?
At the end of this summer Girl Noticed hosted a series of free virtual workshops. I was thrilled that teenagers from across the country would participate. We’d talk about their strengths, goal setting and breaking goals into smaller tasks to achieve success. One workshop offered girls the opportunity to learn about creating murals. We’d discuss materials, preparation and how to scale their drawings. They would learn that scaling murals, just like our goals, consists of breaking an end goal down into smaller pieces. Focusing on that smaller piece, getting it done, but always keeping the intention of the end goal in mind.
Now I asked the girls to be brave. Somewhat blindly they would be asked to create part of a larger artwork at home. Six girls took the challenge and were mailed a concept drawing, pencil, canvases, paint, brushes and a self addressed stamped envelope to mail their creations back to Girl Noticed. They were encouraged to use their creativity but to keep in mind their section would have to match up with the others for the final piece to make sense. They would use what they learned in the workshop to make that happen. I’m so proud and excited by the end result.
If I’m going to paint 110′ murals that spell out in 12 1/2′ letters “TOGETHER”, then my everyday actions should support the theory that “together” we overcome and move forward. 110′ is BIG, but I believe it is the small everyday things that truly make a difference.
I’d like to share with you an article I came across this morning about depression. I have had my own bouts with depression, mostly before menopause, as I now realize those bouts often came to visit as regularly as my monthly cycle. My solution was often to open a bottle of wine and just chill, find quiet time for myself. For awhile that helped, until it didn’t. A glass of wine or two, or three wasn’t quite enough and turned into a bottle or two, which then turned into vodka on ice, don’t bother with the soda or juice. Now I was depressed and had a headache to go along with it. By the grace of god I made a decision to stop drinking, and lo and behold was informed alcohol is actually a depressant! I don’t remember the surgeon general telling me that? Today I am so thankful to not feel such low lows on such a regular basis. I attribute the change to my “change”, literally my hormones, abstaining from alcohol, personal work and growth, and a little help from my friends, but I can see that when depression did visit me, I had very little control of when it would come, or how I would entertain it. Had it visited me during a pandemic… well, I don’t even want to think about that.
I saw it as my personal responsibility to share the following article. Being someone who can relate to feeling depressed and empathize with others, I am often left not knowing the right thing to do or say when faced with someone I care about who is suffering. I found this article informative and helpful. I hope you will too. We are in this together.
“Revealing Your Depression Didn’t Go Well”
Someone close to you has depression. Here’s how be an ally.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hi! It’s a busy, exciting day for Girl Noticed! Tonight at the brand new Pembroke Pines City Center is the Grand opening of THE FRANK Art Gallery and Exhibit Hall. Girl Noticed was asked over two years ago to be a part of this exhibit and opening, and is thrilled to have been given the opportunity to paint a mural as well as exhibit work in this great space. Thank you Jill Slaughter for all your hard work and the opportunity.
The mural at the Frank is part of the Nationwide Girl Noticed project and carries the message “Just Being Me”. The two subjects painted on the wall are Myra Wexler and 6 year old Valerie. They are an example of how at any age a girl/woman should feel free and proud to be herself. The photos I referenced for the mural were chosen at random after I had chosen the two of them as my subjects. How amazing when I found photos of them both making the same hand gesture. I thought, wow what a great example of how at any age a female must embrace who she is.
There are also two paintings on canvas that accompany the mural and are now a part of the new traveling exhibit titled “Girl Noticed, “Just Being Me”. Lily and Kiana’s parents were asked to take photos of them being themselves, and they also submitted videos of them talking about why it’s important to be noticed and be yourself. Those videos will also be part of a future show that is in the works.
A third portrait is being worked on, although I wasn’t able to finish in time for tonights show, is of Valerie’s awesome sister Karina. There’s only so much time in the day to paint! If you would like to be included in this ongoing series, take a photo of yourself “just being you”, and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org to be considered. Videos are also being accepted. Check out our Facebook page Girl Noticed to view the videos Karina, Valerie, Lily and Kiana made and submit your own by email. You could be part of a future exhibition.
All of the subjects in the Frank Exhibit tonight are from Florida except for Valerie, who I met in Colorado while doing a Girl Noticed mural there. I chose her because I wanted to work with her mom, Misty Elizabeth, a photographer who is raising two young children on her own, working and going to school. She values her time with her kids and sets an example for them to follow that I admire. Myra is know in the art scene as The “Queen or Miami” her eccentric sense of style and flair for creative uniqueness made her perfect to show your valuable at any age.
The dripping paint in the mural signifies that life is unpredictable, and our fluidity as women is not only necessary but essential.
Meanwhile, In Cincinatti …
I am in Cincinnati working on my 10th state Girl Noticed Mural.
I will not be able to attend tonight’s opening, so please take lots of photos and tag #girlnoticed when you post! My daughter Grace will be there taking photos as well, so make sure to say hello!
This winter Hoffman’s chocolates chose Girl Noticed to be featured on one of their candy bars called the ArtBar. Along with 5 other acclaimed Florida Artists, Girl Noticed artist Lori Pratico created artwork to be featured on the wrapper. Proceeds from sales of the chocolate bars directly supports Girl Noticed!
Visit Gallery 2014, Hollywood, FL during this Saturdays Artwalk and receive a signed commemorative poster from the artist with your candy bar purchase!