Anonymous campus chalker decorates sidewalks, Northwestern buildings

Meghan Morris

The colors will wash away with rain, but that’s the point for one Weinberg sophomore who has decorated sidewalks, buildings and the Lakefill with eclectic chalk art this quarter.

The student, who goes by the name “Campus Chalker” on Twitter and Tumblr, draws scenes from Alice in Wonderland, Chicago and his imagination. He began drawing around campus during the first week of school and started a blog Oct. 30 to document his art. In order to continue the project, he wants to remain anonymous.

“This year, classes got crazy and I felt a need to vent,” he said.

He typically goes out late at night to chalk – this past weekend, from 2:30 a.m. into the early morning – and makes interactive art. For example, one chalking on the side of University Library instructs the public to “Express yourself” with chalk he left for contributors to use. The next day, he said, an estimated 40 people wrote quotes and lyrics; one even drew an aardvark.

“Around this time of year, Northwestern starts to get stark and dreary,” he said. “I look forward to adding a little bit of color to campus life.”

McCormick freshman Eric Niemeyer, who has seen the art around campus, said the chalk is a good contrast to gray weather.

“It was a nice change of scenery,” Niemeyer said. “It was refreshing because it’s so colorful and expressive.”

The campus chalker said he typically works alone, but friends provide company. Sophomore Mitchell Serafin said although he does not contribute to the art, he enjoys going to the late-night chalkings.

“I provide moral support and a portable speaker for music,” Serafin said. “It’s cool to see that somebody’s doing something so artistic and public.”

While the campus chalker does not take art classes at NU, he participated in chalk art competitions in high school. He started chalking this year on buildings, but said since he realized the possibility of legal consequences, he now sticks to sidewalks.

In the upcoming weeks, he said he plans to create a scavenger hunt and chalk for student groups.

“Connecting with other people is important,” he said. “I need to do my part: we are one Northwestern.”

As the weather gets colder, he said he hopes to continue chalking but with fingerless gloves.

“Chalk is cheap,” he said. “It’s not permanent, and it’s my favorite medium.”

When the chalk washes away due to rain or staff cleaning, he said it can leave him unhappy after having spent hours on his pieces.

“I’m a little sad to see it go away because I enjoy walking around and seeing my pictures,” he said. “But that’s the whole reason I’m doing it: it’s temporary.”

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