“SIDEWALK CHALK ART”: The ‘New’ Socially- Conscious and Environmentally-Friendly Graffiti

In the 1980s, as so-called ‘urban’ youth were feeling left out, forgotten and unacknowledged by society, they took to subway trains and building walls and other public spaces to scream out, “look at me, here I am, I want to be recognized”. They gathered aerosol paint cans and paint brushes and took their messages to the streets. It was then deemed criminal, vandalism and defacing public property.  Now, in hindsight, it was and still is art. We didn’t understand or agree with their messages but, people need an outlet for expression, whatever the message.

There are thousands and maybe more ways to connect with others at this time, in the midst of social distancing and self-isolation. You can demonstrate your gratitude for ‘first responders’. You can help brighten someone’s day or provide a ray of hope- a positive light for those who feel like life will never return to ‘normal’ as they may feel all alone and unacknowledged. COVID-19 has shaken us all up in one way or another. There is confusion, anxiety, stress, and sadness.

Although we want to do the right thing here, we all just want to go outside and play, whatever that means to you. The thing is that whatever play means, we want to feel the freedom to do so.

Children can’t just go outside and play with their friends as they once could, and there is this new ‘normal, or the way I see it, a new ‘abnormal’ that we live in now. But, we can stick this thing out, hang in there.

photo of a man in white t shirt coloring on gray pavement next to a building

For those of us who are finding it harder and harder to stay indoors, all you need is some encouragement. We can encourage each other. If you are fortunate enough to live in a nice tree-lined street, with the luxury[that we take for granted] of having a sidewalk, a street-facing window, or a front door,[which most of us do have], send your message. This is the ‘new’ socially-conscious graffiti of our times!

You can offer encouraging words or images. You can tell people that you care and appreciate them, as well. There are people in other countries, like Italy, whom we’ve seen coming together and showing their support for each other and patriotism and gratitude for health care workers who go out and fight the good fight every day.

close up photo of smiling girl covering mouth

What if there was a way for your community to do likewise? So, you don’t sing or play an instrument. Bring out your creative side anyway. Get some chalk, preferably sidewalk chalk, it will eventually fade away. So, it is not permanent. Go outside to your sidewalk, or your driveway and make some art. Scribble some words of pleasantry on your sidewalk. Yes, on the ground. Show your belief that we are in this together and LET EVERYONE KNOW IT.

girl drawing on the floor using chalks

Take your children with you. Draw sunflowers, rainbows, etc…Send a positive message to your neighbors, to the world. Kids can say ‘hello’ to their friends. If enough people in your block do the same, have a chalk art contest. At Christmas time, there always seems to be almost friendly competition between neighbors to come up with the best light display. Why not now, too?

It gives people something to do, while maintaining social distancing. It’s fun. It’s family fun. It’s pretty. These messages that are spelled out on concrete are environmentally-friendly. No special chemicals are needed to erase them from any surfaces. With the power of nature and weather, they will all disappear, leaving surfaces as they once were, but the messages will always linger in our memories.

You can always make a video of your display, and save and share it, while others do the same. There can be a designated date of completion, for contest purposes. Everyone can drive by each other’s houses for a virtual vote. Social distancing respected. You can even walk through your block, each family at a specified time, in order that no one gathers and violates distancing rules.

You can send messages to a loved one via video or pics to demonstrate your love and respect. Work with the idea and make it your own. If chalk doesn’t work for you, maybe you all will decide to use holiday lights to display  your messages. Teddy bears in the windows. Go crazy. Have fun. Share your art online. Take the little freedoms left in respect to staying safe and slowing the spread of the coronavirus and tell the world that you have hope.   Just have fun- together, but separately!



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