Blueprint*/A Sense of Self (2019-2020) was a participatory artwork commissioned by the City of Inglewood Public Art Program to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and was inspired by Dr. King’s 1967 speech to junior high school students.

“Number one in your life’s blueprint should be a deep belief in your own dignity, your worth, and your own somebodiness. Don’t allow anybody to make you feel that you’re nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth and always feel that your life has ultimate significance.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the fall of 2019, I met with 15 Inglewood High School students to embark on a project exploring personal value and community. The group used this quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as their starting point and reflected on those who instill young people with personal dignity, individual significance, and a sense of self.

Through group discussion, recollection, and sketching, each student identified a person who had fostered their sense of self-worth and made artworks based on that person. Honest, thoughtful, vulnerable, and diligent, the students brought energy, excitement, and, often, great emotion to the sessions. Portrait sessions and interviews with tears and hugs revealed family stories, childhood nicknames, and words of wisdom.

* Martin Luther King Jr.; "What Is Your Life’s Blueprint?”; Barratt Junior High School address; 26-10-67; Philadelphia, PA