Testimonials

In this world of social distancing connection feels more precious now than ever. My Mark Matters™ has been presented to people from all over the world since 2011. Fotini’s goal is to eventually have all 196 countries represented in the anthology.
“I am very grateful that you took time out of your days to come on two separate occasions to speak to the drawing and painting classes here at Canisius High School. The students were completely engaged in your thoughtful, profound and dynamic presentation. It allowed them to hear, from a working artist, how art can make a difference in the artist’s life and the lives of those who witness it.

The students really got that. They discussed your presentation even after couple of days had passed. I firmly believe that they will look at their own art now as a means of communicating a bit of their story. It also made them aware that they do not know a person until they hear their story. They were thrilled to participate in the timed drawing exercise and know that it is part of a global, community project.”

Catherine Pitek

“The message I received from Galanes’ presentation ‘My Mark Matters’ is that art is a powerful thing in life. Art can be drawn or made up from emotions and imagination. After the incident she went through, she still produced copious amounts of art in which reflected on her life story. She is a great role model for many people through her art.”

Abraham Deng

“The overall message that I received from the “My Mark Matters” presentation was unity. I got this message because small pictures drawn all over the world are going to be brought together in place to assemble a work of art. I think that the finished project will represent global unity despite the physical distance between the work of art and those who created it, everyone will be united in some sense.”

Student

“After the presentation, “My Mark Matters,” I learned quite a few things. The ability to draw from our personal experiences and input it into our art is endless. She was a burn victim and even though her movement was limited she made the most of her position and made amazing art and the experience from her childhood still influences her art today. It should show everyone that our art is part of who we are and that all of our art is a result and mixture of our memories and experiences.”

Student

“Fotini Galanes was the third artist talk of my class and in my opinion, my favorite artist talk. She’s been through so much and being so restricted as a kid in a way helped to create these beautiful movements in her drawing. She is conveying movement now that she was denied in her adolescent. She spoke of beauty in deformity which personally hit me hard. With my mark matters she included us all into her project giving us a sense of importance. But what I will take away the most from her art talk is that, “WE ARE NOT OUR EXTERIORS”.

Student

“I enjoyed Ms. Galanes’s talk and was especially fond of her breakdown of how we analyze art. I really like the exercise we did and classifying how we see things into five stages.”

Student

“Your presentation was an eye opener for me. It taught me to get off my behind and to actually grind for what I want to be. You are a true inspiration.”

Student

“Working through aspects of both form and deformity, Fotini Galanes has created countless, meaningful works to represent change. Her iconic murals and innovative, yet, powerful line-work continue to create a sense of healing and strength. Fotini Galanes’ work is simply inspiring.”

Student

“I thought Fotini’s talk in our class was motivating and inspiring . Her message of finding beauty in deformity is evident in her incredible abstract work, and it is an honor to have her work permanently a part of our art building. I really appreciated the advice she gave us young artists about “staying awake“ and letting our experiences inspire our creative processes.”

Student

“I knew you were an artist, but did not know the compelling story behind your art. Thank you for sharing your story and inspiring me (and countless others, no doubt) with your message. I am blown away, not only by your incredible talent, but also by how you use it in community outreach. You are a beautiful light in this world.”

Valerie Vullo

“My Mark Matters allowed my middle school students to not only make personal connections to art making but also gave them a sense of empowerment and empathy. After Fotini visited our school my students continued to contemplate on her message. A few weeks after Fotini’s visit my classes were reflecting upon their artwork from the quarter, and discussed what they enjoyed the most. The overall consensus was that they wanted to continue creating artwork that had a deeper message or in one way or another was meant to help others. When asked to share why they preferred these projects a student shouted out “because My Mark Matters!” The program that Fotini has developed to bring to children resonates with them, and is powerful.”

Mary Ellen Ryan

“I thought Ms. Fotini Galanes’s presentation, “My Mark Matters”, is extraordinary. I think the world needs to have more respect and sympathy for people. It’s sad to hear about the nasty comments and gestures that people have done/said to her. This project will help bridge the gap between diversity, giving us a sense of togetherness.”

Colin Brown

“What I gained from the presentation was understanding the process of creating an intricate piece of art. I was struck by how long the process was to complete her drawings of the mix between the beautiful and the grotesque. The meaning behind the images that examined the difference between the grotesque and beautiful was also meaningful to me, in that it showed me a new meaning for beauty.”

Student

“The presentation made me consider the different ways I could use my art, and how I should keep in mind how much impact my art can have. It reminded me that trying to send a message with my art can really spur changes in the world I live in, whether I realize it or not.”

Student

“I learned that no matter what you have been through or are going through, everyone has their own story and they should all be told.”

Student

“Amazing woman with an amazing story.

From her talk i was able to pull out that we as different people are able to see the same things in different ways growing in stages. We all see art in a variety of ways and there are steps that are brought forth to help that.”

Student

“Ms. Galanes’ talk spoke deeply to me, especially the way in which she copes with dealing with chronic pain. The escape she has found in her journey through art and feeling resonated with my own struggles with my chronic diseases.”

Student

“Seeing Fotini Galanes’ works have opened my eyes that everyday things that we take for granted can be art such as the cake she made. We can view baking and decorating as forms of art instead of only thinking drawings and paintings to be the only things as art. I also realized that people will talk bad about you because of your gifts and talents that they lack or wished that they have.”

Student

“With my mark matters she included us all into her project giving us a sense of importance.”

Student

“Fotini’s story is so courageous and inspiring. Her art work is so unique and I have never seen anything like it before.”

Student

“You made a difference in the lives of the 42 young men who heard you speak.”

Catherine Pitek

“During her time at Starpoint High school, I observed her working with the students in a very kind and compassionate way. She offered one to one demonstrations, shared stories, empathized with students on matters separate from art class and was able to create a bond with them within two days. This is mastery. My students were blown away and have been forever changed. They sent her cards thanking her for enlightening them on the idea of beauty, inner struggles, and preconceived judgments.” 

Kelly Tomasello

“Jamestown High School has 70+ students from Puerto Rico, and two students recently from China. Many of these students are struggling to pass the regents exams in order to graduate. For this reason, the drop-out rate is high. The students who come here as older students find it nearly impossible to learn the language well enough and quickly enough to pass these exams. They are becoming frustrated, and beginning to believe that there’s just no point in trying anymore. It really is quite a sad situation.

This population is in desperate need of seeing glimpses (from people other than teachers) of the possibilities for their future…I am very thankful for people like you who will shine a light on these students and bring attention to their lives.”

Debbie Oakes

“Ms. Galanes’ presentation was very eye opening in that it showed me the beauty in imperfection. She was very brave in talking about her own experience with imperfection as well as she was very well spoken as to why she did each part of her work.”

Michael Cashatt

“Ms. Galanes’ presentation of her art and journey to becoming a well-known artist was heart-warming and inspiring. Her art shows that there is more to art than just the display of the masterpiece. Most of Ms. Galanes’ works describe herself and her emotions. Her story of tissue burn and how she persevered through the pain was shocking. The reasons behind Ms. Galanes’ art show that we should try and understand one another before we judge.”

Student

“The biggest thing I took away from Ms. Galanes’s presentation was that your artwork should be very personal to you. It should have a significant personal meaning that not everyone has to understand. I also have a greater appreciation for what goes into her work, and how it benefits people like the children in hospitals. She uses her talents to help those who aren’t as fortunate she is, and it sets a great example for other artists.”

Student

“Witnessing Fotini Galanes’ talk and artwork was inspiring and a reminder that beauty is found in all forms, and sometimes it pays to be in the right place at the right time. Her interactions and collaborative work with Nick Butler is hair raising and make a strong visual impact to that open sense of beauty. Her artwork speaks to the sensitivity to where we find beauty, and often, that is in deformity and visuals that are not often seen by the eye in a concrete way. Her personal journey is one that she so kindly uses to touch the lives of others around her. Despite the flack she has gotten for her personal image throughout the years, she beautifully and boldly stands before an audience and continues to share her journey as a strong woman, and memorable artist.”

Student

“Fotini Galanes spoke at my lecture class THEMES AND ISSUES IN CONTEMPORARY ART. I was first impressed by her RESILIENCE and HARD WORK, using her talents not only professionally , but personally to deal with significant physical and emotional traumas that are not immediately visible. More importantly I was and remain moved by her statement “I need my art to mean more”. She has taken her great gift of talent, her hard work ethic and the challenges of her PERSONAL experience and put it all out into the world to benefit others, i.e. in her murals for Children’s Hospital and in her MY MARK MATTERS project. I was honored to hear her speak and to contribute to the MY MARK MATTERS project.”

Student

“When I walk into the building, I love staring at her artwork and seeing how it moves. It always seems to change, every time I look at it. I see a new shadow or a new Bright lite coming at it.”

Student

“MMM is to me, an extraordinary vehicle to teach children about love and the contributions we each bring to the world. Through you, they are given voice and the luxury to dream and voices their future aspirations. Your beautiful work lets them know they are important! For adults, to me, MMM important vehicle that can create empathy and awareness. Your program offers a chance to reflect personally and professionally and in so doing will create a better world. I love the work you are doing and think the time is perfect given the tragic state of affairs the world wakes to every morning.”

Blythe Merrill