The Chalk Mural. A time-honored Country Day tradition. Students’ knees will be tarnished with color. Teachers will roll their eyes incessantly as participants request to be dismissed in the name of artistic exploration. One artist will be temporarily homaged in the regal medium of chalk. This year, that lucky artist is (drum roll) Betty LaDuke.

LaDuke resides in Ashland, Oregon, and is known for her books about art and women. In the ‘60s, she was the first woman to teach art at Southern Oregon University, and a retrospective of her art was held last year to commemorate her 80th birthday.

Patricia Kelly, the faculty director of the mural, often struggles to find an artist, but she said LaDuke was perfect.

“It’s difficult to find an artist whose work can translate into the medium of chalk,” Kelly said. “Her use of bright colors, symbols and images created while on her travels around the world seemed perfect for a public mural.”

LaDuke’s art is all about the celebration of life, as stated on her website: “A flow of human energy, rooted to survival rhythms, rites of passage and the expression of joy and sorrow, in peace and war — these are the themes of my work.”

Kelly thinks this theme is perfect for a communal project, such as the all-school Chalk Mural.

“My hope is for students to realize the importance of this event in terms of building community through art.” Kelly said. “I love to see students crowded into the squares working together and having fun with a simple basic art medium—chalk.”

It will be a challenge for squaremasters, the AP Studio Art students who are in charge of the mural production, Kelly said, noting that “LaDuke’s works encompass a lot of images of people, faces. This will be challenging and a good learning experience for the square masters.”

When finished, the mural will perfectly demonstrate what LaDuke’s art is meant to create: a community of people coming together for the sole purpose of creating something beautiful.

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