An exploration of inspiring stories overcoming emotional and physical challenges through the work of two acclaimed South Florida artists.

We pay tribute to their stories, their strength, and their tremendous courage and perseverance. Through working in different methods and mediums, they are united by the inspiration derived from strong female role-models.

Presented in partnership with ArtServe, an award winning local non-profit arts incubator, all work on display in the "Femme Empowered" exhibition is available for purchase, and sales support the individual artists and local cultural community.

Featured Artists: Nerissa Balland | Lori Pratico

Art Reception | June 12, 5:30pm - 8:30pm

Holy Cross Dorothy Mangurian Comprehensive Women's Center
1000 NE 56th St, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33334


LORI PRATICO began her artistic career at 19 as a billboard artist in Philadelphia. Self-taught, this hands-on experience pushed her to explore ideas and techniques that were non-traditional and experimental in her artwork. A Broward County resident for 25 years, her original artwork and craftsmanship can be found in countless private homes and many businesses, including The Whole Enchilada, The Wilder, GreenBar and Kitchen, SoHo Hotel and Spa, and The Dream Hotel in South Beach. 

In 2015 Lori launched a nationwide mural project called “Girl Noticed”. In its inaugural year, Hoffman’s Chocolates chose the project to be part of their ArtBar campaign along with acclaimed artists Guy Harvey and Clyde Butcher featuring the artist’s work on a chocolate bar and poster. Girl Noticed murals can be found in 13 states and have caught the attention of news stations in Florida, Ohio, New York, Virginia, Nebraska and Alaska. Workshops, lectures, and scholarships given to participating communities now accompany the mural events.

Lori has also set up her easel and painted live for events including the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, NFL Alumni Event, the Miami Boat Show, and the W Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. Her work has been featured in both local and national publications including Venice Magazine, Sun Sentinel, Marie Claire, Juxtapoz, and Professional Artist magazines.

Lori is on the staff at Coral Springs Museum of Art bringing art to children with Autism, Cerebral Palsy and other special needs through a program called Kaleidoscope. She is the resident artist at Artserve and was recently appointed to serve on Broward County’s Public Arts and Design Committee. 

Lori believes in giving back to her community and using her artwork to spread a powerful and inspiring message. 

@Girl Noticed 


NERISSA BALLAND is a visual artist who creates paintings and drawings in a variety of sizes and mixed media. She is extremely fascinated with the many levels of communication between the viewer and the piece, the artist and the work, and the artist to the viewer. In addition, Nerissa has been particularly interested in art as a means of communication throughout the various stages of her life.

Nerissa has had a strong desire to create since childhood. During her formal education, she fought to hold on to the innocence behind the creative process in order to maintain a balance of technique and “the unlearned.”

Extensively trained at Pratt Institute, Nerissa received a Master of Fine Arts in painting. She spent the past 18 years working in marketing and design. Currently, Nerissa works full-time as a Contemporary Artist in Miami and is a resident artist at Yo Space Gallery. 

In 2019, Nerissa was selected to speak at the Women’s Empowerment Series at the University of Miami, Braman Center for Jewish Learning; her work is represented in that building and she was selected to be UM Hillel’s Resident Artist.  In 2018, Nerissa was selected to display work in Miami Art Week during Art Basel at The Art Center of Wynwood, she was recently featured in Salann Magazine and interviewed for Voyage MIA.

Her  creative process is consistently evolving in order to maintain a balance of technique and “the unlearned.” Simultaneously, it unravels like an onion and taps into basic human desires for acceptance, love, and protection. 

She often explores how these desires are defined. Nerissa is fascinated and comforted by boundaries, finding the loopholes, and then breaking the rules.

Her art consistently represents subject matter through many textures, layers, colors, and strokes that provide playful yet organized chaos.

While she uses a variety of materials and processes in each series, her methodology is consistent. Although there may not always be material similarities between her different series, they are linked by recurring themes. The subject matter of each body of work drives her material selections and her approach.



Holy Cross Dorothy Mangurian Comprehensive Women's Center
1000 NE 56th St, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33334
(954) 351-7800