On April 18 UCR student artists took chalk to concrete on the patio near the Coffee Bean to bring art to life and compete in this year’s 22nd annual Chalk the Walk event, hosted by Highlander Union Programs.
Participants chose from three categories: creating an an original work, reproducing a masterpiece or creating a piece that takes a stand for or against a current issue or cause. This year’s competition highlighted a variety of images and approaches, and it ranged from current recreations of favorites such as the Avengers and Harry Potter, to more classical reproductions such as Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam.
Chalk the Walk brought together a diverse group of students from a variety of majors to showcase some of the immense artistic talent at UCR. Alex Trinh, a fourth-year mathematics major, sees the event as a way to relax and take a break from studying. “To me art is a side hobby; it’s a way to cool the mind,” he said while touching up his depiction of the Avengers as vegetables, the idea of which came from a t-shirt. “I encourage all students to participate in Chalk the Walk, it’s fun and it’s a tradition, sort of like climbing to the C.”
A common theme among many participants is the love of art for art’s sake. Jonathan Kim, a second-year psychology major, isn’t motivated by the prize but simply enjoys drawing. His piece, a collage of Calvin and Hobbes illustrations, is a tribute to his favorite childhood comic and it’s creator, Bill Watterson. The only thing that seemed to bother Kim about the contest was the hot weather. Despite the heat, participants toiled away at their masterpieces. They could often be seen on all fours, their arms and clothes covered in chalk dust.
Chalk the Walk has been gaining admiration and popularity among the rest of the students. The event had a strong online presence this year; the UCR Chalk the Walk Facebook page gained over a thousand likes. Students were able to comment on their favorite pieces and even “like” the ones they were rooting for to win. Adam Marentes, a third-year neuroscience major, stated, “I always look forward to Chalk the Walk. The different artwork is fun to see and gives me something to look at while walking to class.”
Chalk the Walk has been a UCR tradition since 1990 and was created by Highlander Union Programs. When asked about the inspiration behind the event, Patrice Smith, a programs associate, explained that the event was for the students and for the UCR tradition. Besides just setting up the stations, the HUB also provided each participant with a supply kit of several different styles of chalk and charcoal.
The prizes for this year’s Chalk the Walk winners were customizable gift cards, with the Best in Show (reserved for the entry with the highest overall score) winning an $100 gift card. The highest scoring entries in each category are awarded a similar $50 gift card. A panel of judges consisting of UCR administrators and faculty determined the winners for all categories except for the People’s Choice category, where tallied votes from students decide the winner.
This year’s Best in Show and ‘People’s Choice winner was Alyssa Pedvin, a fourth-year business/economics major who created the Starry Night reproduction. First place in the Original category went to Francisco Hernandez and Jason Hernandez, who constructed the 3D tower entry. For the Reproduction of a Master category, the scene from The Simpsons episode, The Mysterious Voyage of Homer won, reproduced by Joel Villegas, Estephany Campos, and Hiban Huerta. Last but not least, the Take a Stand category went to Faezeh Fathizadeh who created “Sewing the Seeds of Freedom.”
Although this year’s participants battled with the heat, everyone was still in good spirits as the competition ended. The chalk art of each participant offered something different to the competition, and the camaraderie amongst the artists was evident as they each cheered each other on. Chalk the Walk continues to be a proud tradition and a public showcase of UCR’s creativity and its students.