Chalk art bites the dust

Chalk art bites the dust




One student found himself mopping up his chalk creations after discovering he was in violation of the chalking policy outlined in Piedmont’s student handbook.

Newly elected freshman class senator and graphic design and photography major Josh McGowan started chalking around campus as both an artistic endeavor and a Student Government Association campaign strategy.

McGowan started chalking on the board in Nielsen Dining Hall before his SGA campaign began. He covered the entire chalkboard with band logos and colorful, abstract patterns and designs. He also drew a commemorative flag design for Sept. 11.

He then started using chalk for his SGA campaign, decorating the concrete wall in front of the art studio.

“I wanted to start chalking to get my name out there [and] to increase my chances of getting elected,” said McGowan.

According to McGowan, Natalie Crawford, Director of Student Activities and Campus Events and the faculty sponsor for SGA, contacted him and said the chalk had to be removed. Crawford did not respond to interview requests for this article.

“There was a lot of confusion and miscommunication on the rules and regulations for chalking,” said McGowan. “I thought I had satisfied all of the requirements, however there were other important reasons as to why I needed to take it down.”

The student handbook states several regulations for chalking on campus.

According to the handbook, students must fill out a form from the Office of Student Activities before chalking can begin.

The college also regulates who can chalk and the content of the messages. “Only sanctioned clubs/organizations are permitted to chalk,” and “profanity or potentially offensive or vulgar language and/or images are not permitted,” says the student handbook.

There are specific locations where chalking is prohibited, including on bricked surfaces, the interiors and exteriors of buildings, underneath overhangs or covered areas and the “sidewalks between Congregational Circle and Daniel Hall including the area in front of Stewart Hall and between Stewart and Daniel Halls,” says the handbook.

According to the handbook, violations are forwarded to the Office of Student Activities and referred for Judicial action.

McGowan said he had permission from “the person who looks over SGA,” and did not complete a form before he began chalking. “They didn’t have any chalk forms when I went there,” he said.

After this incident, McGowan removed all of his chalk art across campus, including the chalking he did in front of Stewart and Daniel Halls. “I did not have to, but I did out of respect,” he said. “I thought after there was an issue with one, that it would be respectful to take down the rest of them.”

McGowan also chalked the stairs leading to Swanson Center with a quote from popular English rock band Muse’s song “Uprising.” This chalk art was not related to McGowan’s SGA campaign. The quote he included said: “Paranoia is in bloom. The PR transmission will resume. They’ll try to push drugs to keep us all dumbed down and hope that we will never see the truth around. So come on. Another promise, another seed, another packaged lie to keep us all in greed.”

“I just did the stairs because they were completely in the regulations for chalking and [I] enjoy it,” said McGowan. “I picked a song that I thought everyone would know and just thought the step fronts made an excellent display area.”

However, senior theatre major Jeremy Douylliez was not happy with McGowan’s art and cleaned it off the sidewalk himself.

“It was kind of extremist,” said Douylliez. “I thought it was dark [and] it messed up my bright, cheery day.”

McGowan said he does not have plans to chalk on campus, outside of the cafeteria,  anytime soon.

“I will chalk the board in the cafeteria and if there is a school project that someone would like help with, then I will but just me on my own, no,” he said.