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Art Students Use CNM Sidewalk as Their Canvas

October 1, 2013 -- Most people these days don’t see a sidewalk as a canvas. But for the students in Lynn Johnson’s Drawing II class, CNM sidewalks are serving as a timeless canvas that links contemporary art to 16th Century Italy.

Her students used chalk to draw colorful images on sidewalks found in various locations around Main Campus, following a tradition of art that dates back to 16th Century Italy, called “I Madonnari.” This was an era when artists painted images of the Madonna on sidewalks to earn a living.

The CNM sidewalk art pieces are a combination of old masters, like Leonardo da Vinci or Van Gogh, with contemporary artists like Alex Grey or Mark Ryden. The images include Mona Lisa holding a bee, a child looking in wonderment at a starry night and a girl standing before a mirror.

caption:Johnson asked every student in the class to create a proposal for sidewalk art that merged paintings by an old master and a modern one. Part of the proposal included creating a miniature image showing what the sidewalk art would look like. The students presented their proposals to the class, along with some faculty and administrators, who judged them on a point system. The person with the most points received first place and had first chance at selecting students in the class to be on the team that would make the design. The second place winner had the second choice of picking students and so on. The students whose proposals were selected served as the teams’ lead artists.

The fun doesn’t end with the completed images that can be found on the north side ofcaption: Jeannette Stromberg Hall and the east side of Ken Chappy Hall. They are also part of a campus-wide contest to determine the best artwork. Students and faculty were asked  to vote on the drawings. The winner of that vote received the People’s Choice Award. Select administrators and faculty also cast ballots in a separate vote to determine first, second and third place winners. The winners will be announced soon.

caption:“The drawings all combine styles of old master artists and some of the best artists of our time,” said Lynn Johnson, the instructor who conducts the competition every term she teaches the Drawing II class. “The students had the opportunity to expand their imaginations by blending the two very different styles, working in a collaborative environment with their peers and gaining a real world experience at the same time.”

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