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About this Video

Kitty’s exploits on her surfboard are enough by themselves to make her stand out: she’s 78 years old and still competing, against men and women, proving herself a champion in a sport she loves. Her talk was about surfing, but it was also more than that: it was about finding your happiness, standing up for what you know is right, and finding the courage to be the best version of yourself.

Kitty got on a surfboard for the first time in her 50s. It changed her life, and she never looked back. She rode her board to freedom. She went on to win dozens of surfing competitions in all categories, including “men only!” Before that, she had been a staid housewife, mother, and calligrapher; suddenly, she became a free spirit. Instead of perfect little letterforms, she started creating big, wild paintings. She has exhibited in City Hall in Bermuda, the Danforth Museum in Framingham, and the deCordova Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts, and had solo shows at Emmanuel College and Harvard University.

About the Speaker

Kitty Pechet

Kitty Pechet

I surf
I paint,
I draw a longtail (a Bermuda sea gull).
We ride air currents.

At some point, I give up control.

I break free of the graph paper source of calligraphy
Into the open space of board and brush,

I ride through foam, aware
Of teeming life and layers beneath

My brush, no outsider, strokes
Deep inside the beauty,
Folly and energy of this world.

I begin to paint and draw, often as play,
With intention but no plan.
Charcoal, paint, board take on
Their own life, start to breathe,

Demand nourishment, direct me.