The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

GV Chalk Art Symposium inspires students to keep researching

GVL/ Alena Visnovsky

Grand Valley State University students got their hands chalky at GVSU’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarships’ (OURS) second annual Chalk Art Symposium. At the event participants were able to illustrate their research projects with the creative approach of chalk art. 

The symposium was held Sept. 21 on the plaza outside the Mary Idema Pew Library. Participating students were given an opportunity to showcase their research discoveries to other students and staff in a unique way that is both creative and explainable through a visual outlet.

OURS connects and supports students interested in pursuing research programs with different areas of discovery programs, advising and scholarship opportunities. Students and faculty work together to initiate projects and creative practice from exploratory to advanced levels of research. 

OURS brought Chalk Art Symposium to GVSU in 2022 after drawing inspiration from the University of Colorado-Boulder, which holds a similar expression of research and artistry on its campus. They decided the opportunity would highlight the studies and research that students have done in a visual and non-traditional way.

Emily Miller, a local teacher, artist and GVSU alumna was invited by OURS to return for a second year to work with participating students in transforming their research concepts into art.

“I’m teaching others to be chalk artists,” Miller said. “It’s amazing, weird and cool.” 

Miller began her chalk artistry in 2020 by transforming her driveway into colorful works of art during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to relax. She has since competed in several local chalk art competitions and was the winner of the People’s Choice award at the 2022 Zeeland Chalk Festival. She utilizes the creative outlet as a way to connect with her students, neighbors and artists around her. 

This year’s symposium saw participating students working individually or with their research partner or professor. More students were involved in the chalk artistry this year than last. Several returning students were able to expand on the research they had illustrated the year prior. 

“We have some returning artists because they’re still researching,” Miller said. “So they’re just adding on to their recent art. Some of them are research partners (so) there’s two (chalk art pieces) that have the same title, but they’re different artists.”

Alexis Phillips, an exercise science and psychology major, attended the first symposium as an artist and returned to participate and develop the research she had previously illustrated. Phillips’ goal this year was to modify her artwork on mobility and disability studies so that her project would be easier to understand visually for people unfamiliar with survey research.

“I asked if I could do the same drawing,” said Phillips. “They (OURS) said, ‘Of course, we’d love to have you.’”

Phillips said she enjoyed the peaceful environment of the symposium. 

“Everybody’s just here drawing and healing their inner child. You see so many pieces of research from different areas and majors in one spot,” Phillips said.

Both Phillips and Miller said they hope to return next year to see how GVSU’s Chalk Art Symposium continues to grow.   

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