Pop Culture
Apr 22, 2008, 11:03AM

The Artistic Glory of Chalk

Chalking is an ubiquitous communications medium common to any college campus. But only the rarest examples, as this Cornell writer attests, can truly be considered art.

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Phot by mckay savage

"To call these sidewalk depictions marketing is to miss the greater purpose of chalking, which is to relate one’s singing group or one’s own self to nature’s beauty. It should come as no surprise that chalk is made of gypsum, a word derived from the Greek verb meaning “to cook” — cooking, another newly recognized art form. Sometimes it is the lowliest of functions — eating, self-promotion, urination — that produce the most surreal and unexpected art forms. Fret not, dear reader, for I was once shallow enough to misunderstand chalking — when it seemed to me a fire hydrant, and I, its dog with caustic yellow font. My penance will arrive as a three-part documentary on chalking, followed by the release of a full-color 2009 calendar (all proceeds will go to children).

While I remain unaware of the time-space of chalking’s antaean transformation into an art form, by focusing on contemporary techniques — those I’ve been cataloguing ever since my recent encounter on Ho Plaza — I hope that the public will zip up its mean fly and see, finally, the beauty at its feet.



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