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Stories of inspiration from Smart Girl Stories across the globe. In Living Color: Orange Girl’s Art Of Illuminating Breast Cancer

In Living Color: Orange Girl’s Art Of Illuminating Breast Cancer

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” Cesar A. Cruz

Ermira Murati, or as everyone knows her by her name, the Orange Girl, is a 23-year-old modern artist from Kosovo with a unique mission: fighting for breast cancer survivors and spreading the message to as many people as possible. She is not just a normal artist. She is a unique treasure when it comes to creativity and advocacy. Her art is not just seen; it’s felt, with a distinctive orange that signifies both danger and joy.

The journey begins

Her artistic journey began a while ago when she embarked on her university studies in studying art, something that she enjoyed doing so deeply. “I started studying painting at the university, and left it after 2 years, I felt a bit doubtful about my future, but I felt free as a bird.”

It was during these years she recognized her true potential as an artist would be fully accomplished only if she would break the thinking-inside-the-box mindset and set on her own path. This was a doubtful start but as soon as she did, she felt free and ready to start the impossible: her unique artistic journey.

“While I was studying at the university, there was this subject I loved and it was the only reason I stayed for two years, I would have dropped earlier. It was this one that opened my eyes and saw my potential that I never thought I could reach.”

Art as provocation and dialogue

“I wanted my art to stand for what I believed in: people’s human rights and equality. A world where equality is appreciated, and stereotypes are broken.”

That’s when her more ‘provocative’ artistic works started. Ermira’s work is daring. One of her first major pieces featured two Albanian women in traditional clothes sharing a tender kiss. Released on the first day of the LGBT parade in 2021, it was a bold statement on love and acceptance.

This, following a few more similar artistic works, caused backlash from some of the then-more-conservative people about her ‘misappropriating and offending’ the cultural traditions of our beloved country. “I was not trying to offend anyone; it was my expression of something that I believed was true. Love between the same genders had been prevalent for many years in the past, even though it had not been public. I just wanted to show people that love is love is love, and there is nothing to be ashamed of.”

During this period, she received many insults and threats, and she was scared to even go out alone in the streets. “I was so young: I wanted to express my artist world through my honest expression of what I believed it. I felt like I was being watched and suffocated everywhere around me. I didn’t want to do interviews or go on TV interviews: I thought doing so would further put me out there to be harmed and threatened.”

The Orange

What’s unique about her art is orange. As you see Ermira, you will notice she is always wearing orange, and her art highlights this color. “I liked this color since I was 14 years old. It was something that expressed danger and happiness for me. It’s a unique combination of red ‘danger’ and yellow ‘happiness,’ which brings this special color. It certainly does attract attention and excitement. It has a very positive impact, and for me, it’s a symbol of a brighter future for women.”

She saw how impactful her art was, and now it was time for another step: taking action for those who needed it. “The message in my art is clear: there is no need for interpretation.” Exploring splashes of her orange in her art would be the turning point in her artistic journey and the landmark for her advocacy for women.

Freeing art: the “Shliroj Cicat” NGO

In 2021, Ermira founded Shliroj Cicat “Free the Tit”, a non-governmental and non-profit organization that would support women fighting breast cancer.  The name, in its controversy, was thought-provoking, and many people did not like it. “It is so vulgar; why would you use such a name? Why don’t you just say free the breast or boob, not the ‘tit,’” says Ermira about the name. “I wanted the name to be thought-provoking and for people to get used to the phrase.” The idea was that people would get used to the phrase even though some people might have considered it too graphic.

She initially started voicing those who were unheard and in need with the #NoBraDay: to recycle bras into bags and tote bags. For an entire day, women could bring their bras to donate or get in the booth in the center near the table to undress and bring their bras. “To be honest, I was expecting disappointment: I knew what I was doing was a bit controversial, and it might be difficult for people to come and donate their bras, something very intimate and sensitive.” Imagine the surprise when around 70-100 women gathered that day. Not 10; more than 100. “And the first woman to approach the table was a middle-aged woman, which surprised me and made me so happy.”

“It was a huge success,” Ermira says. “Seeing so many women participate was just overwhelming.”

The festivals that followed included races, concerts, and educational panels, all designed to raise awareness about breast cancer and encourage women to get regular check-ups.

“What we did initially as a new organization was that we put stickers about breast cancer information in orders made by girls in different places, and we got amazing feedback. These stickers were about breast cancer and encouraging them to get tested and learn more about breast cancer. The feedback was amazing: the girls loved it. This showed us how little the audience is informed on this.”

“I am Woman, I Am Made of Stone” Movement

With her NGO up and running, Ermira didn’t stop there. She launched the “I am Woman, I Am Made of Stone” movement, aimed at empowering women through the stories of strong, resilient women leaders. “It’s about showing girls everywhere that they can be strong and make a difference,” Ermira explains.

Ermira continues to advocate for women specifically. As she looks to the future, Ermira plans to return to university—not because she feels she needs to, but to inspire others. “I want to show that it’s never too late to chase your dreams,” she says. Through her art and actions, Ermira Murati continues challenging societal norms and advocating for those who need it most.

The Orange Girl

Ermira Murati, born a year after the war ended in 1999 in Kosovo, is known for breaking taboos with her artwork. Founder of “Shliroj Cicat” NGO, women advocate, empowering artist, her mission is clear: “I go with the flow, I don’t plan the future: I live in the moment. Everything that comes my way I like to work on it hard. Everything I have planned so far, I have reached it. I believe in the words ‘I CAN’. I am always eager to see what I am able to do next. I know I skipped university, but I know I am gonna go back to finish my studies. Not because I need it, but for others to see and get inspired by me.” Ermira feels compelled as an artist “to create what needs to be created”. For her, art expresses love in the best way.

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Edlira Dibrani

Edlira Dibrani

Hello there! I'm Edlira Dibrani, an avid reader and lover of words. An enthusiastic reader who finds solace and excitement within the pages of books. While I shy away from the label of a bookworm, books have been my constant companions throughout my life, paving the path toward my destiny as a writer. From crafting poems and essays in the 3rd grade to embracing the daily ritual of writing, my journey has been one of continuous exploration and growth in the vast universe of literature.


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