Chalkfest kicks off ARTober

Allie Bragassi, Staff Reporter

Children use chalk to draw on sidewalks and driveways. But here at Sandburg, the art students bring sidewalk chalk to a new level by creating a chalk mural outside the North Building.

The month of October is celebrated as national arts and humanities month across the country. The recognition was established by Americans for the Arts in 1993 and since then many places throughout the United States have begun celebrating the month.

The Art Department of Carl Sandburg High School first celebrated ARTober in 2012, and has continued to do so almost every year since. The exceptions to this are 2017 because of ongoing rain; and 2020 due to COVID-19. The way that Sandburg’s Art Department shows appreciation for art during this month is when the students work together to create a large chalk mural.

This temporary artwork is called Chalkfest. The mural is usually done during October. This year Chalkfest is planned to be on September 29th, assuming that the weather on that day is clear. If it seems like it is going to rain on the planned day, Chalkfest will be rescheduled for a later date.

Chalkfest started with a simple goal: spreading awareness for the school’s Art Department.

Mr. Engelhard and Ms. Michaelson, two teachers in the Art Department at the time, decided to use the fact that October is national arts month to have more students become aware of the school’s Art Department.

When asked about why the Art Department wanted more students aware of it, Mr. Engelhard said “Sometimes when we have our annual art show, sometimes juniors and seniors will walk into the show and say I didn’t realize we had an Art Department. And I find that interesting and shocking that clearly there’s a group of students at Sandburg that have no idea that we’re here.”

With the help of Adam Fabianski, a chalk artist, the Art Department was able to come up with a way to show off the Art Department. 

For every Chalkfest, Adam designs an image with a grid on top of it for the students of the Art Department to recreate. The design is then printed onto multiple sheets of paper to use while recreating it. All of the art classes of the fall semester work on the piece the same day. They do this during the hours that they have art classes. The classes earlier in the day do things such as draw out a grid for the mural and basic outlines. Next, the students use regular chalk to add color to the drawing. Lastly, the students use a higher quality chalk called butter to add the final coloring and details to the project. Throughout the process of creating the piece, Adam directs the students on what to do and gives advice to them.

Due to how well the event went at its debut, not much about Chalkfest has changed. Since the first Chalkfest the only notable changes are the addition of recording a time-lapse of the process behind the mural and having access to more tools and chalk. 

Courtesy of Gordon Engelhard

While Chalkfest is the largest event of the Art Department’s ARTober, there has been a tye-dye mini workshop in previous years. Chalkfest murals from past years can be found in the ARTober! section of, the Art Department’s website.