Art and diverse cultures have always interested me. As a kid, my mom often took my two sisters and me to different cultural events and art happenings. She once took us to a street fair in the Los Angeles community of Watts. Neighborhood kids and I colored side-by-side on the street with chalk, fast becoming friends in the way small children do. We ate food together that afternoon, with flavors and varieties I had never experienced before.
A few days later, the Watts riots erupted. As I watched with a child’s eyes the scenes of protests and destruction on television, I worried about my new friends. Were they safe? Were their homes on fire? Would they be able to go to school? I felt a bond with my friends, an unbreakable link created through art and innocence no matter how fleeting the moment. Little did I know how this sense of kinship, of empathy for others and their struggles, would become foundational to my creativity.
As I became older, art became my passion and I came to firmly believe art can change the world. At 20, not long before entering the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, where I would graduate with honors as an illustrator, I backpacked through Europe on my own. I traveled for six weeks in the Old World, entranced by new art, new architecture, new foods, traditions and cultures, and new friends. Travel gave me a new perspective of people and places that influence me to this day. I return to Europe when I can, and have even taught sketching tours in southern France and Amsterdam.
In between my travels I had my daughter, April. She was eight months old when I first noticed the small pale patch on her skin. Over the years, she and I came to learn quite a bit about vitiligo, a medical condition that causes white skin patches that often grow bigger over time.
It inspired me to write and illustrate Different Just Like Me, a children’s book that showed how we are all different, yet so much alike. This led over the next 20 years to making presentations about diversity and acceptance at schools, bringing together communities to create public murals, and even an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, in between teaching art and creating my own art (learn more at differentjustlikeme.com, and https://www.differentjustlikeme.com/get-creative- for more about the murals).
Recently I began creating pieces for shows and exhibits that focus on social issues and current events. I consider it part of a lineage that began with that little girl drawing in the street with chalk, a lineage with waypoints marked by travel, college, motherhood, teaching, and writing. Empathy and kinship have remained ever present along the way, a notation of sorts that we all need a little of both as we deal with life’s challenges. It will always be a part of my art. I hope it shows our similarities and differences in a new way. I hope it stirs a conversation. I hope it helps people consider a different point of view. I hope it makes the world a better place.
San Diego Watercolor Society, “My Life, My Story”, juried by Graeme Stevenson. (Saturday & Sunday)
Athenaeum, Annual Juried Show, La Jolla, CA, 2 pieces (US1 and US 3, now called "Family")
Art on 30th, Juried Show "Double Trouble", San Diego, CA, 2 pieces, (US1 and US3)
Oceanside Museum of Art, Sparks Gallery, Juried Show, San Diego, CA, (10 Women)
Athenaeum, Annual Juried Show, La Jolla, CA, (10 Women)
Cannon Gallery, Annual Juried Show, Carlsbad, CA, (10 Women)
Athenaeum, Annual Juried Show, La Jolla, CA, (Little People)
Girard Gourmet, La Jolla, CA, "20 Years of Different Just Like Me"
Athenaeum, Bread & Salt, Barrio Logan, CA, "10 Women, Women’s History Month"
Athenaeum, La Jolla, CA, “The Super Secret Show”
Girard Gourmet, La Jolla, CA, “Coffee Shops,”
Girard Gourmet, La Jolla, CA, “People & Places,”
Girard Gourmet, La Jolla, CA, “The Art of Lori Mitchell”
Girard Gourmet, La Jolla, CA, “Illustrations by Lori Mitchell"
Oceanside Museum of Art, NOW show with TWA, Oceanside, CA
Fresh Paint, 20/20 show with TWA, La Jolla, CA.
San Diego Art Institute, A Tribute to Pam Whidden: Models are to Artists Like Flowers are to Bees. San Diego CA.
Cannon Gallery, “Prom Show,” Group show with Twenty Women Artists ( TWA), Carlsbad, CA
Inspiration Gallery, “San Diego and Beyond” Group show with the Art Posse,
Liberty Station, San Diego, CA.
Fallbrook Library, Group show with TWA, 10 women, Fallbrook, CA.
Helmuth Projects, “Nasty Women” group juried show, San Diego, CA,
Girard Gourmet, “Three Generations,” La Jolla, CA,
California Center for the Arts, “Writing with Pictures” Escondido, CA.
Art Walk, Liberty Station, San Diego, CA
Cannon Art Gallery, “Original Art: Celebrating the Fine Art of Children’s Books,” Carlsbad, CA
2004 - 2015
Boehm Gallery, Annual Faculty Show, Palomar College, Escondido, CA.
Baldessari, Athenaeum Music and Art Library, La Jolla CA. Acquired 2019
1984 - 1987
Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA
BFA in Illustration, with Honors
1980 - 1983
San Joaquin Delta College, Stockton, CA
AA in Illustration
2004 - present
Athenaeum, La Jolla, CA.
Pen & Ink, Watercolor and Mixed Media
UCSD Extension, La Jolla, CA. Pen and Ink, and Animal Illustration. Illustration Certificate Program.
One week teaching urban sketching on location in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
One week teaching urban sketching on location in Nice, France.
LINK, a free once-a-month program for at-risk teens sponsored by the AIGA.
2007 - 2008
Canyon Crest Academy, San Diego, CA.
High school conservatory program.
Children’s Book Illustration, Pen and Ink and Mosaic
2004 - 2017
Palomar College, San Marcos, CA.
Drawing and Composition
2014 - present
Twenty Women Artists (TWA), San Diego, CA
2013 - present
Art Posse: AKA Sisterhood of the Traveling Paints, San Diego, CA
2005 - present
San Diego Urban Sketchers, San Diego, CA 2005 – present
2004 - present
The Athenaeum Music and Art Library, San Diego, CA
To see more about Different Just Like Me and related projects go to:
Shoutout Socal article https://shoutoutsocal.com/lori-mitchell-artist-art-instructor/
SD Voyager article http://sdvoyager.com/interview/meet-lori-mitchell/