Pam Shank Watercolor Portraits
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Who are these VOICES?   They are people who have spoken to me over time... have touched me, actually.   I want them  to know that they are being heard. The oil sketches have been painted over the past two years, not only as my experiment in oil painting techniques, but as a tribute to these individuals as well. Not surprisingly, most all of these people have continued to use their voices in even stronger tones since I started this project, in situations that have called for leadership, wisdom, and courage. It’s been interesting to watch how they have connected with one another in person and in the media. I’m excited to share these wonderful voices with you and I hope you will listen to what they have to say. This is an ongoing expression so I will be adding more faces to the collection.  The paintings are available for touring locations in 2020.

Who are they?    

First Row (left to right):

Greta Thunberg
 Swedish high school student activist who went on strike last summer to call attention to the problem of global warming, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, created #FridaysforFuture, a movement to activate students around environmental issues. Her singular stance has created a worldwide movement for change. Voice of the future right now.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, 86 year old mother of two and still going strong. The story of her life is examined in the film, “On the Basis of Sex”. She is remarkable, having changed the course of our society in ways that I never realized. Not only is she accomplished as a woman, she is also outstanding as a human being, worthy of her place in history.   Link –

Malala Yousafzai
Educator, student, speaker, writer, and remarkably, the survivor of a near-fatal attack by the Taliban. She is the youngest Nobel Peace laureate, author of the brilliant and inspiring book,  “I am Malala”. Eloquent defender of the right of girls to be educated, mature beyond her years.

Michelle Obama
Harvard educated lawyer, former First Lady, writer and speaker, mother, heroine to many. Brave enough to tell her truth in “Becoming”. She exemplifies the nurturing power of motherhood, the audacity of intellect and leadership, and the perseverance of a woman who has important things to get done in the world.  What an eloquent voice! She means business.

Christiane Amanpour
If you want to learn something, watch this woman on PBS. For as long as I can remember, she has been interviewing guests in a way that intrigues and educates.  British-Iranian journalist and anchor for CNN and ABC.  The issues and people she highlights are always fascinating; her interviews display an effort towards understanding. Currently at “Amanpour and Company”,  6-7 am, 5-6 pm, and 11:30 pm – 12:30 on PBS. Right now, she’s interviewing David Attenborough about climate change and TRUTH. His new documentary will air in April on Netflix, “Our Planet”.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
 “AOC” as she is known, Congresswoman from NY, fastest rising young woman in politics, facing backlash for her verbal battles with political figures currently in power, eloquently voicing her powerful position as a woman and a newly elected representative. “I believe that every American should have stable housing, health care, and education; and that the most basic needs to sustain modern life should be guaranteed in a moral society.”

Second Row:

Nicholas Kristof and Cheryl WuDunn
He is a NY Times columnist, they are the first married couple to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism. Co-authors of “Half the Sky”, a passionate expose on the plight of women in the world. A supporter of the Pacific Crest Trail preservation, Nicholas Kristof frequently holds Q&A live chats on FB about current issues, inviting dialogue from all perspectives.

Andy Borowitz

Harvard educated writer and comedian, creator of  “The Borowitz Report”, a short news satire posted every weekday (the best fake news on FB!). He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker magazine and to “The Moth” story-telling radio program. 

Gabby Giffords
Author and speaker, former US Representative from Arizona, shot and severely wounded during a mass shooting in 2011. This week she helped introduce “H.R.-18”, a background check bill, on the eighth anniversary of her shooting.

John Pavlovitz
Minister, author, speaker from Wake Forest NC…saying things that need to be said.  Difficult things. His first book, “A Bigger Table”, was published in 2017, and his new book, “Hope and Other Superpowers”, will be available in October, 2018. For information, go to  JOHNPAVLOVITZ.COM

Ellen Degeneres
Everyone knows who this is! She continues to be “Relatable”, as her newest Netflix special is entitled. Love her spunk, spirit, and kind humor.

Elijah Cummings
Congressman from Baltimore, Ranking Member of the House Oversight Reform Committee. Beautifully used the power of his VOICE  at the conclusion of Michael Cohen’s public testimony to remind the country that “We are better than this.” Strong words, and worth hearing again.

Third Row:

Mason Noland

Cary father and family man, outspoken supporter of education, sane politics, and civilized society. Funny, free-thinking, brazen guy who loves sports, music, cats, and especially - his wife and children. How refreshing!

Sonia Rapaport, MD

 Physician, holistic healer, writer, artist, poet, mother of four, incredibly generous supporter of those who are suffering…..outspoken advocate for safe medical treatment options and inclusivity. Recent FB post:  “I am one of those children born in the US to non-citizen parents. If he attempts this unconstitutional act, he would be declaring me an illegal alien.” Time to VOTE.

Jill Santa Lucia
Owner of Catering Works catering and event planning in Raleigh, feminist, mother, friend, award-winning chef, passionate people-person, defender of authenticity regarding life, love, food, and politics. Find her at or on FB.

Kathy Ammon

NC artist, mother, outspoken advocate for family values, gun control, and equal rights. Her art fluidly expresses the love that unites us. She has been instrumental in defending her children as they meet enormous challenges head-on in 2018. Through it all, she displays a stalwart faith in God. Follow her on Instagram at Kathy Ammon Art, or find her on FB (Kathy Whaley Ammon) or view her website

Blake Mycoskie
Founder of TOMS, the shoe company that is known for its “buy one/give one” policy to provide shoes to parts of the world in need, his corporation has donated $5 million to organizations working to end gun violence. The TOMS website now has click-and-send link to have state representatives sent a postcard  supporting universal background checks. Try it! EASY! (Cool guest on Jimmy Fallon too)

Ann Conlon-Smith
Raleigh mother of six sons, blogger, lactation  
consultant, fashion maven, one who lives life to its fullest, expressing poignantly her experiences with the highest highs and the lowest lows. Her adept writing stirs emotion and reminds us to be grateful. “Vote, vote, vote!” is her pressing word of the day. I hear you, Ann!

Fourth Row:

Trevor Noah
 Host of the “Daily Show”, comedian, son, speaker, author of a fascinating autobiography, “Born a Crime”, in which he tells the story of being raised in South Africa by his single mother in a culture torn apart by racial conflict. Also, there’s an interesting commentary ongoing at “Between the Scenes” on FB. And just this week, his new hour-long comedy gig, “Son of Patricia” was released on Netflix.

Dwane Powell
NC artist, father and grandad, traveler,  friend, and former editorial cartoonist at the News and Observer.  He now creates verdant political cartoons for lucky friends on FB,in notebooks, and on napkins. Quick-witted observer of life, speaks his mind, authentic contemporary artist of high accolade, the real deal.

Melinda Gates 

Philanthropist, mother, speaker, writer, passionate advocate for women’s health rights, seeking to improve the quality of life for individuals around the globe. An advocate for reading, reproductive empowerment, STEM education. Author of “Moment of Lift, How Empowering Women Changes the World”…read a description in her own words at

Van Jones
News commentator, author, attorney, founder of non-profit organizations including the Dream Corps.  Author of “Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together”, 2017.

Dr. Ruth Westheimer

Now a tiny  90 year old, Holocaust survivor, an unexpected voice in the forefront of the sexual revolution, she was America’s most famous sex therapist in the 1980’s, using words and phrases that I never dreamed would be uttered in public. A new Hulu film, “ Ask Dr. Ruth”, has been recently released (I have not seen it) which documents her life and career. Sounds interesting!

Randy Rainbow
Comedian and singer, outrageous interpreter of current politics merged with show tunes, his biggest influence is his grandmother, and he’s all over social media with his videos and talent (easy to find), 2019 Emmy nominee. He will be performing this fall at the New York Comedy Festival on November 9 at Madison Square Garden (along with Trevor Noah, another VOICE I love!). Here he is on NPR’s Fresh Air:

Fifth Row:

Marianne Williamson
Internationally known spiritual author and speaker, relationship counselor, politically savvy self-made guru. I found her to be interesting over the years because she has the gift of gab about new thought spiritual things and relationship issues. HOWEVER, this week she announced her candidacy for President in 2020 (what?!). To me, this seems to be a real stretch! But, the dialogue might make sense if you believe in the pendulum effect, with her call for evolution towards “ALL IS LOVE” vs what we’ve heard recently sounding like “Hate, hate, hate”. #jointheevolution, on FB Marianne Williamson

Angela Lombardi
Educator at NCMA, multi-talented artist, single mother, and promoter of things that enrich life. She exudes positive creative energy and warmth to everyone around her, especially to the young people she mentors.

Beth Berngartt
Genuine friend to many, free-spirit, mom and grandmom, supporter of the arts, defender of gun sense with Moms Demand Action, advocate for women’s rights, political observer, irreverent seeker of happiness. She’s on FB and all over the globe! I admire her resilience and living large!

Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister of New Zealand, new mother, passionate politician. With a reputation for compassionate leadership, she has prioritized addressing mental health and child poverty. She responded to the mass shooting of Muslims in her country by passing gun control legislation within days.  “When our children do better, we all do better.” I admire this stance.

Ashley Hinton

Empassioned elementary school teacher, talented writer, cat lover, inspired sharer of heart-felt convictions regarding life, love, men and women.

Ann Marie Amico

Self-employed graphic designer and illustrator, artist, mother, supporter of the community in Fuquay-Varina, NC. Her voice supports local businesses, valuing art, acknowledgement of climate change, the need for gun control, the idiocy of some certain politicians. I hear you, Ann Marie. SHOP LOCAL THIS MONTH!

Sixth Row:

Valarie Jean Bailey
 Quiltmaker, fiber artist, mother, friend, ardent supporter of sanity in an insane time. Passionate, unrestrained, and eloquent in her creative use of language. She rocks FB!

Joe Biden

Former Vice-President, father, beautiful example of a political with great depth, espousing survival and hope in times of hardship,  author of “Promise Me, Dad”, a touching memoir about his life, including the poignant relationship with his son, Beau, who passed away in 2017. Recent quote, “Words matter.”

Sarah Smarsh
5th generation Kansas farm girl, author of  “Heartland, A Memior of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth”, a remarkable autobiography of choosing to  break the cycle of poverty and teenage motherhood, opting for pursuit of knowledge instead. Interesting perspective on rural America, politics, and women. On FB and Twitter. Audio book is beautiful.

David Brooks
Political (moderate conservative) commentator on NPR, writer, reporter and film critic. I’ve followed him on PBS for awhile and his comments make sense to me, as he navigates today’s partisan division. He has recently written a NYTimes bestseller, “The Second Mountain, The Quest for a Moral Life” which describes his views on living a meaningful life, on mentorship, and even on marriage (with a surprising take on romantic intimacy which made me even more aware that I’ve missed this experience so far). He also goes into the value of faith and community in his life. Definitely worth a serious read for those of us starting a new chapter in our lives.

Megan Rapinoe

Captain of the US Women’s Soccer Team, advocate for women’s rights on and off the field, led the team to the 2019 World Cup Championship, has been a leader in the sports world for many years with her crafty expertise and is outspoken with regards to politics, sports, and authentic personhood. Not being a “sports person” myself, I hope I am using the right words to describe this dynamo Mega star! The more I learn about her, the more I admire this woman. One of my first portraits on the “Wall of Voices” was of John Pavlovitz, who writes eloquently of her here:

Dan Rather
He's been a journalist and writer for longer than most of us have been reading. He has been a former CBS news anchor, White House correspondent, 60 Minutes correspondent, author of "What Unites Us", published in 2017, among many other accomplishments. He currently produces "News and Guts Media", discussing people, politics, and possibilities. He's active on FB and