Truly Valued: Who Am I?

January 2019

Truly Valued: Who Am I? was a community engaged art project carried out throughout a two-month period. The project included eight girls, ages thirteen to sixteen from the Sarasota / Bradenton area who worked together to create art around the topics of confidence and identity.

Artist and gallery founder, Marianne Chapel and the Executive Director of the nonprofit Truly Valued, Shavonne Simon, collaborated to provide a temporary art studio workshop for the teenage girls. The artworks included large two and three-dimensional pieces, made independently by each girl, with no instruction, and a large collaborative sculptural piece made by Chapel and all eight girls together.

The exhibition also includesd a community participatory project where visitors had the opportunity to engage by answering two questions, “Who Am I?” and alternatively “Who was I?” Chapel hopes this project to reveal the inherent similarities all people have when reflecting on their personal development and their current selves. The objective for the contributing and viewing audience is to reflect on similar adolescent experiences with empathy and identification.

Chapel introduces the girls to intuitive art processes and to a wide range of art materials in order to free them from societal expectations and support them in their own artistic personal development. She gives them the opportunity to make unrestricted and nonjudgmental art in a professional but relaxed working art studio. The process includes looking at diverse, contemporary new media artists, slide discussions that include new art vocabulary, positive encouragement, independent decision-making, physical art making, and at the end, an art exhibition for the public to view the work.

Truly Valued “Who Am I” is a socially motivated (the desire to interact with others) community engaged art project. Socially Engaged Art is a meaningful social interaction that proclaims itself as art. The interaction, or the process, is the art. Therefore, socially engaged art is dependent on the involvement of others. Socially engaged artists challenge the art market because there is no object to purchase and the notion of authorship is ambiguous. Socially engaged art takes a topic, such as confidence building within the teenage experience, away from its usual place (a usual place would be a therapeutic, educational, or sociological forum) and configures the topic into the realm of artmaking in order to call attention to the subject. The process is a representation of an idea.