Jen Lukas Landis ‘90 is an artist and creative director who has long used her talents to inspire. This tactic pulled her through some tough times in graduate school, when she was plagued by self-doubt as an artist. What evolved was the Pincurl Girls.

“Pincurl Girls come from a series of drawings I did in graduate school. I was really insecure and had little self-confidence with my art. So I started drawing my inner child. Then one day, I decided to STOP thinking negative thoughts and made myself only say nice things to myself. After graduation, the girls I drew kept talking to me, and today they are the Pincurl Girls. They are here to remind you to stop thinking negative thoughts about yourself! Stop it girl; you are great!” said Landis.

Jen’s Pincurl Girls are available in prints, wall decals and calendars; each work provides a message of positive self-talk, mindfulness and inspiration. Recently, she created a multicultural version of her calendars inspired by the children at Nelson Mandela School in Omaha.

Like many stories, this one has a Marian connection. “While watching a Husker football game one Saturday afternoon, I showed my aunt, Joan Lukas ‘77, owner of PR firm Lukas Partners, my 2018 Inspirational calendar. Joan knew it would resonate with the principal of Omaha’s Nelson Mandela School, Susan Russell Toohey ’82, and shared it with her after a meeting. Susan loved the idea and dreamed of giving one to each of her scholars,” recalled Landis.

Nelson Mandela Elementary is a free private school located at 30th & Curtis Streets. It currently serves children in kindergarten through third grade with a year-round academic calendar, providing a Singapore Math curriculum, phonics-based Spaulding method for reading and language arts, and a music partnership with the Omaha Conservatory of Music, where every student learns to play the violin. Of the 100 children who attend school at Mandela, 90 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch.

In creating a calendar for the children at Nelson Mandela, Principal Toohey provided Jen with photographs of the children, which served as the models for Jen’s illustrations. The calendars also were modified to feature mindfulness messages on each day on the calendar, a philosophy taught at Nelson Mandela. The calendars promote a positive self-image, self-confidence, being strong and smart, and caring for fellow classmates, their school and the community.

Four versions of the calendar were produced – an African-American boys version, an African-American girls version, a multicultural boys version and a multicultural girls version. Students were able to pick their calendar, and it is used each morning as they begin the school day.