This past school year Civic Nebraska was able to launch a new opportunity that worked with young women enrolled in our CIRCLES program. This program addressed the primary CIRCLES’ goals:
- To introduce middle school girls to highly successful women in the Omaha area who have succeeded in careers not traditional to women.
- To involve the girls directly on site at venues where highly successful women are at work in the real world
- To begin to break down gender inequity in career opportunities and expectations.
Profiles and Portraits hybrid of CIRCLES had additional goals:
- To guide the girls through personal goal setting, projecting a positive self-image
- To translate their vision into visual art
Funded by the Omaha Womens’ Fund, Profiles and Portraits met in the Lewis and Clark Middle School Community Learning Center after school program. Liz Hunt, founder and CEO of DayCloud Designs, began the club by talking with the girls about the image that they project to the world. Through her talent for graphic design, she demonstrated how media works to create and frame an image for people. While doing so, she also was a personal, real world example of a woman entrepreneur owning and operating her own company in the community where the girls live. She was the living, breathing example of her message.
Liz then handed off the group to professional artist, Kristin Pluhacek. Funded by a grant from the Nebraska Arts Council, Kristin took up the task of teaching the girls how to translate Liz’s message into art. The girls went through a process that started with photo images of themselves, incorporated outside imagery into a representative collage, then Kristin taught them the principles of visual art. The Profiles and Portraits clubs then made several trips to Kristin’s professional studio where they created their own self portraits.
As with Liz, Kristin was a model of a highly successful, self employed woman successfully working in a field that she loves. The art studio was a real world experience for the girls where they were able to participate actively in a career at a venue in their own community.
The visible outcome of Profiles and Portraits is a large, pastel self portrait of each girl in the program. The goals of giving these girls a vision and actual experience in two careers, with two highly skilled and successful women is something that is as enduring as the physical art.
See some of their artwork below.