Celebrate Soulfully: Chalk Artist Brings Black Heritage to Life at Downtown Disney

Krystal Rhaburn

by , Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort

The Downtown Disney District has been the home of Celebrate Soulfully offerings through music, food, art and more throughout the month of Feb. One of the most popular experiences has been live chalk art installations by Disney Live Entertainment Senior Production Artisan Marcella “Marci” Swett.

“I’ve been doing art all of my life, and I have been involved in chalk for almost 30 years,” Marci said. “From creating murals, to working at Disney Imagineering, to teaching high school art, to running an art gallery –– I’ve done a bit of everything when it comes to visual art.” Her artistic talents can be enjoyed and are featured throughout all Disney parks and resorts.

Chalk muralist Marcella Swett works on an art installation during Celebrate Soulfully at Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort

Marci specifically embraced the chalk culture as a way of escaping the pressures of everyday life while enjoying free artistic expression. After aiding in the development of top chalk and street festivals in multiple California cities, she aspired to bring chalk art to Disneyland Resort. “Just after three years of pursuing this individually and seeing if we could initiate some kind of chalk into Disneyland, the opportunity came up for Black History Month … I was very thankful.”

Each of the installations created by Marci during Feb. have been original artwork, all tied to celebrating Black history. “I did one celebrating braids, one about the emphasis of jazz music in the 1950s and the origin of modernism, and one of an afro that lent itself to the CROWN Act,” a California law that bans discrimination based on hair style.

For Marci, the best part has been the positive guest and cast member reception. People of all ages and backgrounds have been blown away by the detail of the chalk art as they’ve walked past it near the former ESPN Zone –– excited to see the installations unfold before their eyes –– and expressed openness to learning about Black heritage and eagerness to engage in meaningful conversations.

“It’s such a dream come true to be able to do chalk, and to introduce our guests to a lot of people and to matters that relate to our history as African-Americans is really an honor,” Marci said. “To be able to leave a mark by educating individuals on matters that they had no idea about, and to hear that they will share the knowledge with others is a wonderful experience. Just to know that you’re planting seeds is one of my biggest joys in life.”