“Fearless Girl” Sculptor, Kristen Visbal, Inspires Cadets to Notice the Movement Around Them

visbalThe “Fearless Girl” sculpture placed as the opposing force against the Charging Bull on Wall St. was created by artist Kristen Visbal and became an iconic landmark almost overnight. SMA Prep cadets asked questions to learn about her journey as an artist and her passion to promote the value of gender and cultural equality worldwide.

Planning, completing projects and speaking engagements are abundant since “Fearless Girl” occurring in Norway, Germany, and Africa. Cadets were fortunate to share some precious time with Ms. Visbal. Jumping right in with questions, cadets were curious about what inspired “Fearless Girl”. Ms. Visbal explained that she responds to realism, was meticulous about measurements, and that her friend’s daughter Ellie inspired the figure.  She likes to work from real life as much as possible and the real young girl also had the right attitude.

Originally commissioned as part of an ad campaign to promote gender diversity in business, the statue was installed on March 17, 2017, the day before International Women’s Day. Ms. Visbal went on to explain that the young girl sculpture was to represent the future of what women in business could become and was requested in bronze to be an imposing figure in response the Wall St. bull.


Cadets are always curious to ask those that have pursued their passions if they ever failed at what they do. Ms. Visbal responded, “Every time I make a sculpture, I look at it and say I should have done this or that. After 20 some years, I learned to accept it and release it and move on. You get smarter as you go.” About another trying experience she recalls, “I lost an installation and I cried but telling the story helped to cope and then I started to exercise and eat right and I move on.”

She admitted to not liking school overall but did like history because her teacher was a good storyteller. She also loved art so much and enjoyed time to herself . She once got approval with a note from her mom to work on her art at home. What inspires her as an artist is marine-life and movement. As an artist, she notices movement in her surroundings and tries to capture moments in time. This explains the movement of wind in the skirt of “Fearless Girl”.


Ms. Visbal explained her larger goals as an artist and the impact she hopes to have in the world in response to being asked if she ever thought “Fearless Girl” would become such a big deal.  She explained the initial commission and installation was only supposed to be 4 days but turned into a permanent fixture in NYC and a favorite tourist selfie spot that also sends a powerful, global message of gender equality.

Ms. Visbal’s is currently focused on what is going to have the biggest impact on gender and cultural equality.  Promoting the value of leadership for women and equal pay and education in the workplace for all.

Ms. Visbal set a goal for cadets to, “go out today and look for the motion around you, capture an instant in time, and one day choose a career you are passionate about.  One that allows you to have a positive impact in the world.”

Trisha Yearwood Kicks Off Inspire Project Speaker Series

Platinum-selling, Grammy-winning artist and best-selling cookbook author Trisha Yearwood challenged SMA cadets to exceed expectations as she kicked off The Inspire Project Speaker Series for 2018-19. Ms. Yearwood is known for her moving vocals, her love of storytelling and her delicious southern recipes. SMA cadets responded to the down-home and down to earth charm that has become a trademark in her professional life. The focus of this year’s campus-wide initiative is Project Equality and Trisha Yearwood was gracious enough to spend some time taking questions from SMA Prep cadets.

When asked why she picked music to pursue over other interests, Mr. Yearwood responded, “music picked me, I just knew I wanted to be a singer, but if I hadn’t become a singer I might probably have become an accountant”. Ms. Yearwood was simply always passionate about music.

What drives Ms. Yearwood to keep up with all her success? She admits to being very competitive even if she isn’t good at something. She credits her mom and dad for being a  risk-taker, and her sense of adventure in trying new things. Her dad is the reason she fell in love with music, played guitar and sang. Her mom was the driving force that let me know as a woman she could do what she wanted and be happy. Ms. Yearwood stated that her parents are her “heroes”.

As far as being a woman in business, Ms. Yearwood pointed out that there are some challenges but you need to work hard no matter what and don’t let any excuse get in your way. As she was entering the music business, she is thankful that she had Reba McEntire as her mentor to help navigate as Trisha Yearwood began her early music career.

Cadets also received some words of wisdom on time management. She admitted to not really have time for everything she has going on in her life. “There are baseballs in the air and some fall on the ground. I try to choose what I can do well and learn how to say no. You can’t be a people pleaser because then you won’t do anything well.”

Responding to the question of liking school or not, Ms. Yearwood gave an honest answer. “I hated it and I liked it. My mom was a teacher and she was my teacher in the 3rd grade in a very small school. I was a self-proclaimed nerd and an “A” student who got involved in everything.” She clarified that it was music that was what she had always loved to do.

A large part of what The Inspire Project is about is to offer young people 1st hand accounts of what it is like to pursue your dreams. Cadets are always curious if people who become successful ever had to deal with failure. Ms. Yearwood mentioned that she is competitive and doesn’t enjoy failure. However, a person begins to appreciate failures as the successes become sweeter. “Learning what doesn’t work is just as important what does work. It is what you do after that that matters.”

Perseverance is a character trait that many cadets work to build every day. Mr. Yearwood shared that she never thinks about quitting, but that the true answer is there are moments when you just want to give up. You get past those moments and deep down even with a bad experience you have to know you don’t give up.

Sharing her strong sense of humor made this a relatable and fun experience for cadets. Ms. Yearwood stated that if she were not able to sing, she might be in prison. Even though her cookbooks have turned into a completely different career she says that she would always pick music. “If I weren’t successful in other things, I’d still find a way to sing in my local honky tonk.”