WUOMFM

What do you notice about women?

Apr 20, 2015

A new art project that's made a stop in Michigan is trying to empower women and value girls by recognizing their potential. Girl Noticed has a message and is stating in ten-foot-tall terms.

Watching someone sketch is interesting. Watching someone sketch a mural on a wall is fascinating because of the scale. But, there’s a problem when you do a mural on an outdoor brick wall using charcoal and chalk. It’s going to weather away. It will eventually fade to nothing.

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

And the artist I'm watching says that’s part of the message.

“We go through our lives feeling invisible a lot of times, feeling unnoticed, or feeling like we’re noticed for the wrong reasons,” Lori Pratico said as she stepped down from the ladder.

She says she wants people to re-think what they notice about women before the chance fades away and they miss the best part of someone.

“Because we’re so saturated with the media and how we’re supposed to look, and how we’re supposed to act, and the roles we’re supposed to play. And is that really who we are as women?” Pratico asked.

Pratico and her partner in this project, photographer Elizabeth Sanjuan, have put together three mural projects in their home state of Florida. This mural on the brick wall of Ann Arbor’s Jefferson Market and Cakery is the first trip out-of-state. They plan projects for all 50 states over the next three years.

Lori Pratico in front of a Girl Noticed mural in Florida.
Credit Elizabeth Sanjuan / Girl Noticed

The words “Notice Me” are drawn in large letters above a chalk and charcoal portrait of a woman. It’s a drawing of Chris Avers from Algonac near Lake St. Clair. She drove up while I was visiting.

This is the first time the artist and the subject of the mural have met in person.

Pratico chooses someone who inspires her for each mural. She’s featured a 16-year-old who beat cancer. Another subject was a young student with Asbergers who was bullied at school. Pratico chose Chris Avers because Avers posted on Facebook that she was 23 years sober.

“It’s kind of funny that this happened because I really put it out there on Facebook which I (normally) don’t. I thought, ‘You know what? I just don’t even want to be ashamed anymore. It is what it is.’ You don’t even need to see my face. Just know that sobriety is a choice and it’s an awesome choice. It’s not an easy choice, especially at the beginning, but it’s the best choice you’ll make,” Avers said.

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Part of this project is interactive. Visitors are asked to write on a post-it note, revealing what they want people to notice about them. Then they put those notes on the wall along side the mural.

For Avers, that note was easy.

“I’ll say notice my sobriety. That’s what I’m here for. It’s what I’m showing up for. Heck yeah.”

The artist, Lori Pratico, says most women understand the message from Girl Noticed. They’re tired of being noticed for their appearance, but not for their skills, or ability, or fierceness. But Pratico says a lot of men laugh, wink, and nudge because they know what they notice about women.

David Adgate is not one of those kind of men. He was visiting Jefferson Market and was curious about the mural.

“It’s a really cool project. You know, I’ve never heard of anything like this before and, you know, these are people, these are women. We need advocates like this. These are really cool.”

I ask him what he would want to be noticed for.

“You know, if I wanted to be noticed for anything, I think it would be for what I do to serve and empathize because I think, you know, when that happens in other people, I see it and it helps me to be better. So. Yeah,” Adgate responded.

Lori Pratico says she hopes the mural and the post-it notes start a dialogue, or at least start people thinking.

“A lot of women really even have a hard time filling out that post-it note because they don’t think about it. They’ve gotten to a point in their life where they just don’t even think about what they want noticed about themselves,” Pratico said.

This Michigan mural is being installed right across the street from an elementary school. Pratico says she hopes those young girls get the message and think about how they’d like to be noticed.

Support for arts and cultural reporting on Michigan Radio comes in part from a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.