First GV Chalk Art Symposium brings research to the streets


GVL / Annabelle Robinson Chalk Art Symposium outside of the Pew Library on 9/30/22

Omari Seaberry, Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarships (OURS) hosted its first annual Chalk Art Symposium that showcased student research through chalk art writing and pictures. 

At the event, each student participant presented their research through the medium of chalk art to share their work and progress with the rest of campus in a creative and unique way.

OURS provides advising, programs and grants that support faculty-mentored undergraduate research, scholarship and creative work. Additionally, they connect with faculty researchers to think about possible topics for research.

OURS wanted to give students who have participated in research projects to be able to share their findings in a visual way and expose the student body to new opportunities to get involved.

“We were looking for creative and non-traditional ways to engage the larger GVSU community in research and scholarship,” Director and Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement, Dr. Susan Mendoza said. 

OURS’ inspiration for this idea came from a similar approach from the University of Colorado-Boulder. Since 2017, CU Boulder has put on its own “Sidewalk Symposium” through its Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) where students are able to create visual presentations of their work with the help of a professional artist. 

Similarly, Emily Miller, a teacher, artist and GVSU alumni, worked with students, faculty and research teams to translate research from traditional posters and oral talks to the sidewalk. 

“We were excited to bring Emily out for the event as she loved the idea of connecting research to the visual arts,” Mendoza said.

Miller began exploring chalk art in 2020 and worked to create drawings, quotes and puns to lift her neighbor’s spirits during a difficult period. Someone has even left her a box of chalk on her porch for her to continue her work. 

“Some of my designs I began drawing in college,” Miller said. “My style is inspired by a few Vera Bradley designs and now it has become my style.” 

Miller is part of the GVSU Alumni Board and is active in the GVSU community. She also takes part in chalk art competitions in the West Michigan area, such as the West Michigan Chalk Art Festival, Zeeland Chalk Fest and Grand Rapids Chalk it Up. 

The Chalk Art Symposium is one of many programs that are hosted by OURS throughout the year. The Undergraduate Research fair is set to take place on Oct. 4 from 5-7p.m. The event will take place in the Grand River Room at Kirkhof Center on the GVSU Allendale Campus. 

“This is our largest event for the semester and the focus is connecting students with all the possibilities in research and creative practice, including meeting faculty, learning about job opportunities and grants and connecting with other programs on campus,” Mendoza said.

OURS aims to help students reach their academic goals and explore deeper into their desired fields. More information about programs, events and how to get started on research can be found on their website.