Sophie Scholl

“The real damage is done by those millions who want to ‘survive.’ The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves—or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honour, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small. It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.”
― Sophie Scholl

Sophie Scholl (1921 – 1943) was a German student and anti-Nazi political activist, active within the White Rose non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany. She was convicted of high treason after having been found distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich with her brother Hans. As a result, they were both executed by guillotine. Following her death, a copy of the sixth leaflet was smuggled out of Germany through and used by the Allied Forces. In mid-1943, they dropped over Germany millions of propaganda copies of the tract, now retitled The Manifesto of the Students of Munich.

“I know that life is a doorway to eternity, and yet my heart so often gets lost in petty anxieties. It forgets the great way home that lies before it.”

– Sophie Scholl

Jane Austen

“But for my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short.” —Jane Austen

Jane Austen  (1775 –  1817) was an English novelist, who’s work depicted middle class British life at the beginning of the 19th century. Her strong-willed and independent female characters have to navigate a world in which they are expected to marry in order to have a place in respectable society. Though her novels were not very popular when Jane was alive, they have become timeless classics, rarely out of print for the last 200 years. And though she only published six books, she is considered one of the most influential novelists of all time.

Sigrid Undset

“No one and nothing can harm us, child, except what we fear and love.”
― Sigrid Undset

Sigrid Undset (1882 – 1949) was a Norwegian novelist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928 for Kristin Lavransdatter, a trilogy about the life of a Scandinavian woman in the Middle Ages, from birth until death. When Joseph Stalin’s invasion of Finland began the Winter War in 1939, Sigrid donated her Nobel Prize to support the Finnish war effort she fled Norway for the United States because of her opposition Nazi occupation of Norway. Because she had strongly criticized Hitler since the early 1930s and her books were banned in German, she was forced to flee Norway for the United States when the Germans invaded her country. There, she tirelessly pleaded the case of occupied Norway and that of Europe’s Jews in writings, speeches, and interviews. Sigrid Undset’s face is portrayed on the 500 kroner note  (Norwegian currency.)


Katherine Johnson

“I like to learn. That’s an art and a science.” —Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson (born 1918), mathematician and computer scientist, was of NASA’s human ‘computers,’ who performed the complex calculations that enabled spacecraft to orbit Earth and to land on the moon. Check out the excellent movie Hidden Figures to learn more about Katherine (and her friends.)

Yuri Kochiyama

“Don’t become too narrow. Live fully. Meet all kinds of people. You’ll learn something from everyone.”—Yuri Kochiyama

Yuri Kochiyama (1921-2014) was a Japanese American who was put into an interment camp with her family after the Bombing of Pearl Harbor. Her experience greatly influenced a life of advocacy for many civil rights causes including the anti war movement, Black equality, reparations for Japanese-American internees, and political prisoners.  She was a passionate advocate for peace into her old age.


Barbara Hepworth


“A woman artist is not deprived by cooking and having children –one is in fact nourished by this rich life, provided one always does some work each day; even a single half hour, so that images grow in one’s mind.”

—Barbara Hepworth

Dame Jocelyn Barbara Hepworth ( 1903 – 1975) was an English sculptor, one of the few female sculptors of her era. She was also revolutionary in her style as she carved massive Modernist sculptures by hand. She was also the mother of four….three of them, triplets. In her lifetime, she did achieve some international success, but she was often thought of as provincial because she was also a mother and lacked the freedom of her contemporaries. Still, the focus of her life and her attention to her children in each season caused her work to be extra special, which aficionados especially appreciate now.

Artist’s note: I was drawn to paint Barbara Hepworth after receiving an email from my husband’s first girlfriend (a friend of mine too) in which she remembered visiting the Barbara Hepworth house in St. Ives, Cornwall, when they were art students. I remembered visiting it too with him (over 20 years later) when we visited St. Ives with my traveling parents. I love when I paint a person, and learn about about her, and hers is just the message I need to hear. Granted, this is often the case when I paint artists and writers…but her story came to me in a time when I was really struggling with the idea of trying to be an artist and support my family as a single mother. I was trapped in the story that I couldn’t do it all. So finding out that this woman whom I already admired (I’ve touched her work in its natural habitat!) also had TRIPLETS (along with a first child from another marriage) was a kiss of life to a hurting soul.  Granted, she was a genius, but I am inspired. Yes, please, Ms. Hepworth, I’d love you to be my mentor! <3

“I found one had to do some work every day, even at midnight, because either you’re professional or you’re not.”—Barbara Hepworth

Joan Didion

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”
― Joan Didion

Joan Didion (born 1934) is an American author best known for her novels and her literary journalism. She collaborated on several screenplays (including “A Star is Born”) with her husband, John Gregory Dunne. When he died of a heart attack after forty years of marriage,  she wrote a book about her grief, which also became a play.  Joan is a fashion icon as well as a literary icon: at the age of 80, she became of the “Face of Céline” for the French fashion label’s advertising campaign.

Emily Dickinson

“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.” —Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was an American poet.  Throughout her life, she seldom left her home and visitors were few. The people with whom she did come in contact, however, had an enormous impact on her poetry.  Emily Dickinson published only eight poems during her lifetime.  Mostly published after her death, her almost- 2000 profound thoughts on life and death, nature, love, and art make her one of the most important poets of the English language to this day.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

Florence Nightengale


“Nursing is an art: and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion as hard a preparation, as any painter’s or sculptor’s work.
—Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale  (1820 –  1910) was an English nurse and social reformer who greatly affected 19th-and 20th -century policies around proper nursing care.  During the Crimean War, she was put in charge of nursing allied and British soldiers in Turkey. As she walked around the wards at night, tending to the wounded, she became known as the “Lady with the Lamp.” Her efforts to formalize nursing education led her to establish the first scientifically based nursing school in 1860. She also helped set up training for midwives and nurses in workhouse infirmaries. Florence Nightengale is revered as the founder of modern nursing.

Zora Neale Hurston


“Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me. “—Zora Neale Hurston


Zora Neale Hurston (1891–1960) was an African American anthropologist, author, and Civil Rights activist. She wrote many plays and books about the African American experience, becoming one of the most influential figures of the Harlem Renaissance, a cultural, social, and artistic explosion that took place in Harlem, New York, spanning the 1920s. “Their Eyes Were Watching God” is Zora’s most famous book. Though it was published in 1937, it is still widely read to this day and has come to be regarded as a very important work in both African-American literature and women’s literature.