Chalk it Up

Written by: Jeremy Douylliez


Nothing says “First Amendment” like a bucket of chalk and a giant chalkboard wall, but there’s something about chalk that one should always remember.  Chalk is fragile.  By its very nature, chalk can be smeared unrecognizable in a single sweep of the hand or washed away with a single pass of a wet sponge.  This has, in the past, served Piedmont well.  

The familiar wall in the cafeteria is normally plastered with announcements, goofy anecdotes, bad stick figures and short rants about campus policies.  

As these etchings age and become irrelevant, they fade away and are replaced by new creations.  The chalk wall is consistently inconsistent and is a great place to get a feel for campus spirit and attitude.  That was, at least, until recently. 

Some time ago, someone took it upon himself to cover the entire wall with a tribute to his favorite bands.  It was pretty – I’ll give it that – but frankly, I think it was out of place and in the way.  It was smeared, taped over, and tampered with all of the chalk drawings before it, but its creator was more stubborn than most.  The massive, intricate drawing was regularly touched up during lunch hours to ensure its continued presence.  This is, I believe, in direct contrast to the very nature of a chalk wall.  Nothing created in chalk should be permanent.  Everyone has the right to write or draw what they choose on the wall; likewise, everyone has the right to remove or alter what’s already there.  

I think it boils down to the simple principle that it’s a community wall – not a personal wall.  Maybe I’m just blowing steam.  After all, it’s gone now anyway.  And I don’t want anyone to think that I’m against guerilla art.  I’d highly encourage anyone to mix up a healthy concoction of moss and buttermilk and go to town on campus with some eco-friendly moss graffiti. 

If anything, it would be worth it just to see Drew Davis’ face when the Metallica logo started growing in moss on the side of Mayflower, and I don’t even like Metallica.  But even guerilla art has a place, and I don’t think it’s on the cafeteria’s community chalk wall.  In fact, I think hijacking it was a bit chalked up.