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Chalk it up to spring
SCAD Sildwalk Arts Festival Saturday
Each registered group or individual is given three hours to complete their work on Forsyth's concrete squares. - photo by Photo provided.

SCAD Sidewalk Arts Festival

Where: Forsyth Park

When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, April 27

Admission: Free

Group participants in SCAD's annual Sidewalk Arts Festival are required to register with a made-up "group name." Mirielle Jefferson, Alex Jeffers and Hyeonji "HJ" Kim came up with a doozy.

They signed up as "Bing Bong and Chickadees."

When they won Best in Show 2012, the girls were relieved when the judges referred to them individually, and not by the collective moniker, a euphemism for certain parts of the male anatomy, from the Zooey Deschanel series New Girl (in an episode called Naked).

As Jefferson, Jeffers and Kim prepare to do sidewalk battle in this weekend's 2013 edition in Forsyth Park, they look back on their inauguration into the world of chalk art with a mixture of pride and astonishment.

"I remember that day, we weren't even on time," says Jeffers, who's studying industrial design. "At the very last minute, HJ was saying how she might not even want to go. We just didn't look at it as anything big, but once we got there we got into it. It turned into something a lot bigger."

They were assigned three adjacent squares and, as per the rules, had three hours to chalk their masterpieces.

"We didn't look at what anyone else was doing," Jeffers remembers. "Once we finished, at the very end, that's when we walked around. It was intimidating. There were a lot of good pieces."

The ladies' win was for three related panels, each featuring one of the artists' screaming faces.

Jefferson, a painting major, was the mastermind.

"A lot of students just go in the day of and start to doodle," she explains. "But I can't doodle at all. So I came up with a concept beforehand and talked to HJ and Alex about it, to see if they were down for it.

"We took pictures of ourselves screaming and printed them out. Then I got butcher paper and made huge stencils; I cut out shapes and outlines. We laid them out on the squares and drew from that.

"I was taking a life drawing class, so I was always doing portraiture and figure drawing. It was also spring quarter, which is hectic, and so the screaming was kind of a release. I also looked at previous winners, and I never saw rendered portraiture. I wanted to do it because I didn't think anyone else would."

Each girl brought her own particular artistic discipline to the project (illustration major Kim generally works with charcoal).

There are 852 concrete squares in Forsyth Park, and on April 27 each will be assigned to a SCAD individual or group. The college likes to call it an "open-air gallery."

It's family-friendly, it's a lot of fun, and anyway, its arrival always means spring has officially sprung in Savannah.

Look for Mirielle, Alex and AJ among the squares, working on whatever they've got cooked up.

The pressure's on. "Last year," Jeffers says, "they called out third place, second place, first place, and I was like "Oh my God, we didn't win anything!

"Then when we got called for Best in Show, it was like 'Wooh!' We were freaking out."

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