Artists take a photo at the end of the day. After working from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., they finished the chalk mural. (Photo used by permission of Allison Zhang)

Chalk mural gets inspiration, recognition from local artists

Twenty-seven years after its beginning, the chalk mural tradition continues as AP Studio Art students miss classes for an entire day to start and finish the murals on the stretch of sidewalk near the handicapped parking spots and high school office. The murals were finished on Friday, Aug. 28.

Every year a new theme is chosen, which students display on 10 sidewalk squares. This year’s theme was Sacramento artists, a broader theme compared to the past (e.g. the art of Studio Ghibli in 2017). Usually, each square is based on one artist, instead of artists as a whole. Students chose different artists and replicated one of their art pieces with chalk.

This year, one square was dedicated to a piece by art teacher and Sacramento artist Andy Cunningham. Students also replicated the work of Lin Fei Fei, Franceska Gamez, Jared Tharp, Shaun Burner, Laurelin Gilmore, Adam Wever-Glen, Andrew Hindman, and Waylon Horner.

The artists that the students chose appeal to the students in many different ways.

“Artist Lin Fei Fei has a very unique style that is similar to mine, which is why I wanted to replicated her piece,” junior Jason Li said.

Li replicated a piece featuring a shaded skull and a brown-and-white sky. 

“It really stood out, and I immediately realized I wanted to do that specific piece.”

Lin said she was impressed with the talent of Country Day students.

“They’re doing so well! Way to go! Thank you for including me as part of this project,” she said.

Senior Michaela Chen, who replicated a piece by Franceska Gamez, also added that she felt she could express her culture through the art.

“I am an Asian-American woman, and I wanted to choose someone who deserved more appreciation for her wonderful art,” Chen said.

The process for these murals began weeks earlier, according to senior Grace Naify. First, the artist (artists, in this year’s case), artwork and sidewalk square is chosen. Later, the dimensions of the sidewalk square are measured and cut on butcher paper. Next, the selected image is projected onto the paper and traced. The paper is then used as an outline to help trace the image onto the sidewalk square. Finally, the outline is colored in.

Middle school French teacher Neil Landers said he was “amazed” at the amateur students’ talent.

“It was really nice to see young artists getting into it,” he said. “The images were very visually compelling.”

Students who helped create the mural also said that that there was something “compelling” in their work for themselves as students.

“The chalk murals provide an opportunity for Country Day students to express themselves and show their appreciation for different artists and art in general,” Li said.

The artists who were chosen said they were proud of the chalk squares and commented on the school’s Instagram post.

“Sorry I couldn’t make it out today, honored I was picked as an artist,” Burner commented.

Gilmore also showed her appreciation for the students.

“I’m so sorry I couldn’t come by before I had to leave Sacramento. I’m so honored to have been asked,” she wrote.

All of the art students agreed that the squares show the different personalities of all the students.

“It’s a really good addition to our school and the homecoming festivities,” senior Bella Mathisen, the current president of the National Art Honor Society, said.

“It’s nice to carry on the tradition and show the public how great our program is because most of our artwork is only portrayed in the classroom.”

Cunningham agreed, adding that his favorite part of the event is seeing the whole community involved. 

“There’s a lot of students helping students, which is nice to see,” he said.

“The art murals bring all of the  Country Day students together because there is so much involvement and support from this school.”

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