We had the good fortune of connecting with Vicki Rosenthal and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Vicki, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
Vicki Rosenthal Art is a visual art company focusing on social impact in community involvement projects, public art, and individual custom work that promotes positive change in the world. The artwork produced evokes social responsibility, social change, empathy, and equity.
Whether an individual, community or organization, the art projects create space for people to share their stories. Many projects have promoted education, environmental preservation and sustainability, TLGBQIA+ rights, immigration justice, cancer prevention, and voting equity. People and community organizations share their causes and inspirations with me, and we create projects together.
A recent community project, the art exhibition, “Every Voice – Vote 2020,” was a collaboration of local artists and community leaders addressing voter suppression within their communities in Broward County, FL. This educational and inspirational project highlighted the barriers many people experience during voting and created community conversations to overcome these challenges. Ideas for these art projects originate from me and at other times, organizations utilize my services to achieve their goals. However at all times, collaboration is at the center of the projects from implementation to completion.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art business sets itself apart from others as I am a person driven to create social impact. With a master’s degree in social work and as a visual artist, my motivation is to use art as a tool for people and communities to share their stories and bring about conversations for change. Prior to my art business as a social worker, I worked as a project coordinator and grant writer for international and national community-based organizations and taught global citizenship courses as an adjunct professor at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL. Interconnectedness is an important worldview because we all connect on spiritual, emotional and humanitarian levels. When we share our stories, we give others an opportunity to relate and open doors of understanding. Through Vicki Rosenthal Art, I am most proud and honored to create projects promoting inspirations, challenges, hopes, and successes that engage and encourage others.
How did you get to where you are today professionally?
My professional career has been a life’s journey. It has been a mishmash of learning skills that has led me to this opportunity to create my own business and pursue an artistic career. Although I had the chance to learn various art techniques and art forms in my childhood, and exhibited and sold paintings in my teens, initially I did not choose an art profession. I worked at restaurants, grocery stores, and insurance companies, volunteered at nonprofits, and painted for pleasure. I went back to school in my 40s, received a Fine Arts Department Honors Scholarship and earned a master’s degree in social work. With this qualification, I worked for a Haitian-based nonprofit for HIV/AIDS education, and organizations for anti-human trafficking. I taught and developed macro social work curriculum at FAU, and all the while continued to create art projects and paintings. In 2018, my social work focus and art talent came together to form Vicki Rosenthal Art. My life and work experiences provided the combined learnings to launch a cohesive social impact art business.
How did you overcome the challenges?
I believe we all hit barriers in advancing our careers. For me as a waitress (for several years), I was terrible; I could not remember people’s orders and had trouble carrying the trays. As a professional in an insurance agency, I hit the glass ceiling as a woman in this industry. When I graduated with a master’s in social work during the Great Recession, many organizations were hiring a higher pedigree of experience than what I had obtained. I look back and consider these challenges as redirections that have strategically guided my path to where I am now – a woman entrepreneur-emerging visual art business. I still face challenges as I have started from scratch in learning how to run my own business, from operations, administration, products and services, to marketing.
However, my primary challenges have been to create a meaning and purpose with any job. As a successful agent in the insurance industry, my primary goal was making sure people understood their policy over making the sale. As an effective professor at the university, it was important to create equity in the classroom and for my colleagues. My most important challenges and successes were and are to understand and live by my personal values and beliefs, and not change due to pressure or let rejections question my self-worth.
What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way?
Life, in general, is a journey of learning personal lessons. From nature and nurture that starts and shapes our existence and how we see the world of family, friends, acquaintances, jobs, etc., this is our individual human puzzle that we are given to try to make sense of it all. Through self-reflection, I strive to put the puzzle pieces together to better understand myself and others in hopes of bringing myself inner peace and creating a more compassionate world.
What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I give my heart and soul in all that I do. By using the gifts that channel through me, combined with my drive to connect the human experience to empathy, I work to provide my best service into creating and promoting community projects, public art, and personal designs that customers love to display to promote their passions and causes.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Two of my favorite places to visit in Broward County are Plunge Beach Resort on El Mar Drive in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and the Conservation Levee Greenway off of West Atlantic Boulevard in Tamarac. If someone were visiting, I would first take them to Plunge. Its lobby has eclectic decor and ongoing art exhibitions of local artists and provides exciting events for the guests and locals. This hotel is right on the ocean, so for the afternoon, we would dine at their outdoor restaurant, and then walk on the beach. Afterwards, we would travel west to the Atlantic Trail Entrance to the Conservation Levee Greenway. It is a beautiful site to be on the levee overlooking the sawgrass of the Everglades while the sun is setting. Both places have gorgeous views and are popular areas to hang out and relax. So, my favorite spots take you from the eastmost side of the county to the westmost. Both sites fill you with South Florida’s natural beauty and wonder.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
It is hard to pinpoint one specific person, group, or moment as my visual art business is an accumulation of everything and everybody that has brought me to this point in my life. When I decided to start my business, two organizations were instrumental in this endeavor: Broward Cultural Division and partners providing the Artist as an Entrepreneur Institute (AEI) and the UniteUs Group / Choose954. AEI provided intense classroom-like workshops with experts in the field outlining tools needed to build successful art businesses and #Choose954 continues to cultivate culture and community by providing opportunities in Broward County and beyond for artists to build their businesses and gain exposure. Artists need this type of support from both organizations, which helps entrepreneurs establish themselves and create art spaces in communities.
Instagram: IG: VickiRosenthal.art IG: MySoulMyShoes
Linkedin: Vicki Rosenthal, MSW
Donner Photos Dave Rosenthal/DeSiRe Photography Angelica Grindle Mike Valcy