Art can be a dirty business — especially when using chalk as the medium.
At Harrisburg Middle School high school art students from 10 schools Wednesday wore their medium on their faces, their limbs and their clothing.
They were competing in the 7th Annual Harrisburg Chalk Art Contest.
Caitlin Campbell, Cody Gifford, Sarah Mecum and Bethany Summerfield of Edwards County High School worked on a colorful rendition of Mount Rushmore.
"It has four faces and so we can do our own four styles to make it look like it's supposed to," Campbell said.
Chalk is a different beast than oil, ink or charcoal. Being a crushed powder, it is not naturally inclined to adhere to concrete.
"We use paintbrushes to smooth it out and pat it down so it doesn't fly away," Campbell said.
A team from Goreville was perhaps making a comment on the messy nature of art in an image of paint blobs dripped and oozing on a canvas. In spreading the chalk with a paint brush some of it piled on the curb and street below. The students incorporated the mess by outlining the spilled pile, filling it in and their chalk painting instantly had a three dimensional effect.
Joy Melendez, Alex McCoy and Emma Loye Frazure of Harrisburg High School were working on a hummingbird amongst flowers.
"The other day my mother saw hummingbirds out through the window and they were sucking at a whole bunch of different flowers that she had. She a really big gardener so that's kind of how we got our idea of a hummingbird and a whole bunch of different flowers around it. And we wanted it really, really bright," Frazure said.
Brightness of color makes chalk art effective on an overcast day, but it comes at a price. The brighter the color, the more chalk needs scraped onto the pavement.
"We're using tons of chalk. We're really running low right now," Melendez said.
"The blacks and whites go fast," McRoy said.
Hannah Robinson and Zach Perkins of Harrisburg High School were working on a large face of a woman with a tattoo on her cheek and water reflected in one eyeball and fire in the other.
"It's just a girl, on fire," Robinson said.
"It's like there is good and evil in her eyes," Perkins said.
Robinson was not impressed with chalk as a medium, saying it's hard to blend the colors together, the chalk dust blows and the dust gathers in unintended places. Water in spray bottles, gloves and paper towels were at all work stations, but by lunchtime, most had given up on tidiness and chalk was freely wiped from hands onto jeans and shirts.
Page 2 of 2 - HHS art teacher Sara DeNeal said for the past two years she has been carrying on the 7-year chalk art contest begun by former teacher Kyle Coffman.
She sends about 20 invitations to Southern Illinois schools and about 10 schools participate annually. This year Vienna, Anna-Jonesboro, Edwards County, Galatia, Goreville, Carrier Mills, Cobden, Carmi and Pope County participated in 43 teams this year. The teams' work is judged on creativity and use of the media. There were trophies for first place, second, third and teacher's choice.
DeNeal expected that after the first rain — which came later that night — the artwork would be for the most part washed away.
"The darker colors, reds and blacks, can stay fairly well. The light colors, yellows and whites, wash away after the first rain," DeNeal said.
At the end of the day the winners were:
3rd place — Harrisburg High School with "Hummingbird" by Emma Loye, Joy Melendez and Alex McRoy.
2nd place — Carmi High School with "Pac-Man Maze" by JoBeth Blake, Samantha Murphy, Dylan Kuykendall and Cheyenne Mann.
1st place — Edwards County High School with "Mt. Rushmore" by Sarah Mecum, Cody Gifford, Bethany Summerfield and Caitlin Campbell.
Teacher's Choice — Vienna High School with "Woman's Portrait" by Shelby Lineweaver, Natalie Chambliss and Mariah Nesler.