Artist who helped Marjory Stoneman Douglas students gets exhibit

Lori Arbel at her “Thought Patterns” exhibit. [Photo by T.J. Brown/]

Pompano Beach – Lori Arbel moves like an artist, her eyes taking in more details than the average person.

An artist and teacher who helped survivors in the aftermath of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas [MSD] shooting, Arbel provides a journey of self-discovery and inner psyche in her new exhibit, “Thought Patterns.”

Ya Levy La’ford with her King Tut display. [Photo by T.J. Brown/]

Located at The Pompano Beach Cultural Center, 50 W. Atlantic Blvd., “Thought Patterns” is a display that invites visitors to explore the monotonous tasks and thought patterns of everyday life, including how people connect and respond with each other, and make a creative mark.

Ink lines and geometric shapes allow Arbel to produce energetic and reflective works that express depth, texture, and tension.

“I was born an artist,” said Arbel. “Growing up, I was always in my room drawing, crafting, and going to the library to get art books.”

Since childhood, Arbel has had a creative outlook that documents her surroundings. In college, she used art to work through the heartache of her mother’s death. A year after she gave birth to her daughter, Arbel turned to intuitive style painting.

The canvases have pops of gold to illustrate metaphors. For instance, irregular lines may symbolize negative energy turning in a positive direction. Creating this type of agenda allows each work of art to have more than one perspective.

Arbel will usually place her canvas on a table so she can move around and view it from all sides, considering the composition and balance from multiple perspectives.

Lori Arbel’s work features pops of gold to illustrate metaphors. The lines symbolize negative energy turning in a positive direction. [Photo by T.J. Brown/]

“For me, it revolves around mental health and to create connections. That’s why these lines connect one dot to the other to show one thought, one idea, one human, and one heart-to-heart,” she said.

Carolina Capellan, Arbel’s friend, visited the exhibit and has a hard time deciding which work is her favorite. “The specs of gold are her glimmer and it’s in every picture. It’s like a representation of our glow. They all have so many different meanings and I’m connected to all of them,” said Capellan.

Eric Moise heard about “Thought Patterns” online. Moise has been inspired by artists such as Arbel to perform his rap songs at BaCa in Pompano Beach.

Moise surrounds himself with creatives but would like more support from the residents here.

“Lori Arbel’s connection’s work is the best,” he said. “We do have good artworks and galleries in South Florida. But in Pompano, we need more people at something like this. Like these pieces say, we need to get connected.”

Arbel would also like more support – for women in art.

She recently read that women make up a low percentage of exhibiting artists.

“I was told that it’s like maybe five percent of women in galleries. That’s troubling to me and in Parkland there is very little to no art scene.”

Joined with Arbel’s “Thought Patterns” is Ya Levy La’ford’s “Vantage Point” exhibit.

Similar to Arbel’s work, La’ford is known for her use of gold and geometric patterns that represent a journey of interconnections.

“I explore how we’re interconnected,” said La’ford. “I’m always very grateful to be inspired by other people.”

La’ford uses gold as a reminder that everyone can find the golden within their space.

“I want us both to invite people to think about the renaissance of the community and start that Golden Age again,” said La’ford.

Arbel discussed how one of her favorite pieces is her “Break Through,” a construct on how people have the power to appreciate old patterns but to break through and be true to themselves.

Her dream project would be to have murals and collaborations on a global level.

“It all starts with support, then inner connecting, and showing up to community events like this,” she said.

“Thought Patterns”’ runs until April 2.

As a Florida state-certified teacher and creative coach, Arbel has taught 6,000 students during her career in Broward schools as well as in New York City. She volunteered with “Eagles Haven,” a wellness center created for the MSD community following the shooting.

“One of my main students, her sister went through the shootings,” said Arbel. “I supported her as she made a piece about MSD and then we gave it to the principal.”

Teaching for Arbel is about taking the time to learn about her students and for the students to learn something about their creativity.

“I have students who have babies now and are in college. My student Daniel comes to mind. I was with him from sixth grade to senior year and he is now graduating in architecture. We’re still in touch.”

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