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Announcing the First Winner of “The Shetterly Prize” for Socially Engaged Art

This year, 2015, the MyHero Project and Americans Who Tell the Truth created “The Shetterly Prize”. Entries were solicited from people of all ages and from anywhere. Entrants were asked to portray heroes, heroism, acts of kindness or courage by individuals or by groups. How, we asked, can art be used — and artists inspired — to promote the common good? This prize intended to push aspiring and established artists to think about the message in their work and how it might help create a more just society. 

This years winner is Tom Block, for his portrait of Sojourner Truth. 

See all the entries here

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Here is the statement from the MyHero Project on the winner and the prize. 

Tom Block, artist and human rights activist has won the 2015 Shetterly Art Award at The MY HERO Project’s 20th Anniversary Celebration for his soulful portrait of Sojourner Truth. 

This is the first year that Robert Shetterly, founder of Americans Who Tell The Truth.org, has donated funds to celebrate an artist who has created a hero portrait that truly conveys the emotional power of hero art.

Tom Block is the founder of the Human Rights Painting Project in conjunction with Amnesty International and the newly formed Institute for Prophetic Activist Art in New York. His highly expressionist portraits of human rights activists include Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Sojourner Truth and individuals who are incarcerated around the world for their acts in the name of social justice.

Both Robert Shetterly and Tom Block have put their art- their talent, their imagination and their sense of outrage- to raise consciousness and to effect positive social change. These artists believe in the power of art and in the universality of art to shine a light on heroes and to do the right thing.

Here is Robert Shetterly’s statement on selecting Tom Block’s portrait of Sojourner Truth. 

I’ve decided to award the prize to one work: Tom Block’s portrait of Sojourner Truth.

I think all his portraits are admirable — especially because they honor courageous people little known to most of the world — but I chose his portrait of Sojourner because it not only honors a courageous person but it succeeds artistically by portraying her passion, dedication, courage and grief.

That’s what I’m looking for — art that carries the emotional qualities of the subject. Tom Block has created a powerful portrait and the viewer cannot help but feel Sojourner’s strength.

I thank all the other artists for their fine work. It’s a noble goal for artists to celebrate our heroes of justice and conscience. Keep at it!

And, I was very impressed with the children’s Art. Particularly the work of Rafael Augustin Villadiego Rios (he draws with a sophisticated wit), Vincent Gordon, and every Peace Pal artist. All of these works had finely developed compositions and were executed with imagination and artistry extraordinary for people their age. 

I feel very honored to have met all of these artists through their art. Together we can change the consciousness of the world.

Bring Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) original portraits to your community.