Students work on the chalk mural, Oct. 23. Footprints marked the mural only days after completion, which freshman artist Mohini Rye found bothersome.

MY ANGLE: Bothered by trampled chalk mural, freshman artist discusses solutions with teacher Patricia Kelly

It’s almost 12:30 a.m. on a (technically) Tuesday morning, the day of Ms. Nellis’s history test – a deciding factor in a freshman’s first-quarter grade. Most would be in their beds at this hour, getting rest for the final exhausting push that would get them through the last week of the first quarter.

However, I’m still up, pencil and paper in hand, my lamp casting a dim light in the room. But it’s not studying that I’m doing – it’s drawing.

I’m always doing art, whether it’s a doodle in my physics notes or an oil painting of the Sacramento River. Art is my rock in a looming whirlpool, with essays, tests and grades threatening to suck me in.

So it’s inevitable that I’m protective of my finished art and empathetic toward those whose art is ruined, especially if it’s a person who damages it.

When I saw the chalk mural last Monday morning – just days after it had been completed – I was shocked. It’s inevitable that the chalk deteriorates, be it from people or unfortunate weather, but what I saw was beyond that.

The mural was utterly trampled, with obvious shoe marks all over the chalk. It was depressing.

Actually, it was downright horrible.

However, when I expressed my distress to others, I only got answers like “Well…it was bound to fade away at some point,” and “It wasn’t us; it was the Buckingham (Charter High School) kids from Homecoming! Maybe they thought it was paint.”

I don’t know if it’s just my artistic side that makes me feel this way, but I don’t understand why someone would walk over art, permanent or not. It’s a sign of respect to the people who spent so long on it. If the mural is going to last for only a small amount of time, why hurry along the process?

Common courtesy is a rare practice these days, and unfortunately, the chalk murals are a prime example of its rarity.

Students spend many hours preparing for the mural and then a whole school day making it reality on the sidewalk.
Kevin Huang
Students spend many hours preparing for the mural and then a whole school day making it a reality on the sidewalk.

A solution to the deterioration of the chalk mural could be simple: just put up a sign on each side of the art telling people not to walk on the chalk.

However, art teacher Patricia Kelly thinks that this goes against the idea of the chalk mural.

“I have no idea if (the footprints) are intentional (or not, but I) would like to believe it was an innocent mistake,” she said.

“Students (have) suggested putting up some barrier for a while after it is completed, but I think the nature of the sidewalk chalk mural is one of impermanence; (it should) go with the natural elements.”

It’s true; the point of the chalk mural is that it will fade away at some point. But it would be better if it was from the natural elements, not from footprints.

In conclusion, putting up a sign for the entire duration of the project is a no-go.

However, Kelly said she has considered another, less extreme alternative: put up cones until after the Homecoming games to keep the mural from being stepped on in the dark.

The only catch is that the cones might be a safety hazard and would have to be to be cleared with the administration.

But it’s worth a try. Perhaps the chalk mural would be able to last a little longer with the addition of a sign or cones during Homecoming.

Well, I hope.

—By Mohini Rye

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