ChalkFIT: Illustration Students Take Art (and AR) to the Street

Visiting art galleries has long been a popular New York City activity, but FIT brings the gallery to New Yorkers with the annual ChalkFIT project. This month, seventh-semester Illustration students used chalk mixed with water to create bold, colorful murals on the exterior walls of the Pomerantz Art and Design Center—and they’ll last for weeks to come. “We’re turning FIT inside out,” says Associate Professor Dan Shefelman, the project’s founder.

It shares its theme, The Future Is … The Human Experience, with a student and alumni show in the new Art and Design exhibition space in the Pomerantz lobby. Some of ChalkFIT’s 50-plus artworks address the theme directly: “I think a lot of people feel the future is slipping from their hands,” says Susan Jean-Baptiste.  “[My mural] is an abstract view of someone trying to grip sand.” Others touch on a diverse range of subjects, from autism to the gender spectrum. One popular piece depicts Colin Kaepernick as Captain America.

For the first time, the class worked with augmented-reality app Arilyn to animate the murals. When viewers use the app to scan an artwork, it comes to life on their smartphones. In one, faces lean in for a kiss; in another, a sinister red hand reaches up while a victim is beamed aboard a spaceship.

The project is a chance to “create art the city can respond to,”  Shefelman says. People often stop to admire the work, and even chat with the students. Like many galleries, it also gives artists an opportunity to find potential clients. “I have a building I’m interested in putting a mural in,” says passerby Mary Haba, “so I’ve been looking for someone to help me.”

See more of the students’ work on Instagram and at The Daily Beast.