Commercial art students move to larger canvases as they paint the school in chalk.
Walking onto campus Nov. 8, students and faculty found a large section of the courtyard roped off by yellow tape. Before school, the only clues were boxes of supplies, oversized rulers, a chalk sketch that read “loading” and a sign featuring the 2015 film “Inside Out”. Two days later, the courtyard was a masterpiece in colored chalk.
Commercial art students led by art teachers Bill Ferrell and Casey Fabianski took their classroom to the courtyard for a revolutionary twist on hands-on learning. Every class period joined the field experience, using their skills learned in class to collaborate on the massive chalk mural. Chalk artist Adam Fabianski, brother to C. Fabianski, flew from southern Chicago to help the students complete the project.
“It was really awesome to work with [Adam Fabianski],” senior Sean Rogers said. “He knew so many tips and tricks to working with chalk pastels as a medium. He was a huge help throughout the day.”
In each period, varying levels of artists showed their hand in the nontraditional medium. For most students, it was their first time doing anything at that scale and in that medium. Art I students mainly focused on laying foundation colors. Higher level art students worked on shading and details, with several Artillery (the River’s competitive art team) members taking the lead.
Photos courtesy of Kameron Kriebel.
“The medium has its difficulties at times; however, I think the most difficult part was the building up of the color,” Rogers said. “Since there were many layers in the piece, it was difficult in some areas to get a nice even coat of the color. The smoothing of the chalk into the concrete was a little bit rough…I have two small scabs on my hands from all the smoothing of the color. I guess I really put my blood, sweat and tears in the mural.”
As art is traditionally an individual craft, one of the biggest challenges was the mass collaboration. Students not only had to communicate with each other during the period but also had to pick up the project where the last period left off.
In addition to other challenges, Nov. 8 broke the cool pattern of weather felt earlier in the week. With a high of 85 degrees, the heat was noticeable to the artists.
“The most difficult part, I think, was having to do it in the heat,” junior Mayra Trejo said. “It was really hot and there was no shade. It was also really hard to get around without spreading the chalk or leaving prints behind.”
Going from paper to a digital rendering to a grid on the sidewalk, the art department’s final project stands out in front of the media center. Although the art itself will wash away with time, neither the artists nor the River are likely to forget the mural any time soon.
Feature photo courtesy of brhsart.com.
Video courtesy of Sean Peabody.
Time-lapse courtesy of Casey Fabianski.