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A hummingbird in flight, drawn in chalk by East Aurora High School senior Gianna G. She’s one of the winners of the Chicago Sun-Times’ latest art contest.
A hummingbird in flight, drawn in chalk by East Aurora High School senior Gianna G. She’s one of the winners of the Chicago Sun-Times’ latest art contest.
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These 11 sidewalk drawings by Chicago-area kids won the Sun-Times’ chalk art contest

We asked Chicago-area students to send photos of their best chalk-art creations for the latest phase of The Imagination Project and had professional artists view their work.

Sidewalks are the places to be in the summer for kids — riding bikes, playing hopscotch, skateboarding, running through a sprinkler, especially during this summer of the coronavirus pandemic, when they needed to get outside but not too far from home.

So we asked Chicago-area kids to take to their sidewalks — or driveways or patios — and create their best chalk drawings, then send them in to the latest Chicago Sun-Times art contest, part of what we call The Imagination Project.

We’re showcasing the winning images here, along with critiques from professional artists Sonja Henderson, David Anthony Geary and Sandra Antongiorgi.

HIGH SCHOOL WINNERS

Caeley D., 15

Sophomore, Lincoln-Way West High School, New Lenox
Chalk art by Caeley D., a 15-year-old sophomore at Lincoln-Way West High School in New Lenox.
Chalk art by Caeley D., a 15-year-old sophomore at Lincoln-Way West High School in New Lenox.
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Sonja Henderson: “The insects under a magnifying glass is a delightful drawing filled with whimsy and charm. The little critters are seemingly going about their business, until closer inspection shows a bug in a face mask and sunglasses. I love the lighthearted concept and vibrant color choices for the bugs. The composition is skillfully executed, with effective positioning of highlights on the magnifying glass lens and handle.”

David Anthony Geary: “I love the visual effect here. Makes me think of the secret life of bugs.”

Sandra Antongiorgi: “Such a fun and creative piece! The use of shadow does it for me. The light reflection on the magnifying glass is great. Overall, a cool 3-D piece.”

Gianna G., 17

12th-grader at East Aurora High School in Aurora
Chalk art by Gianna G., 17, a 12th-grader at East Aurora High School in Aurora.
Chalk art by Gianna G., 17, a 12th-grader at East Aurora High School in Aurora.
Provided

Sonja Henderson: “The feeding hummingbird is beautifully crafted with delicate lines and pretty pastel hues. Using the budding tree limbs is a wonderful way to frame this vignette. The vibrant orange interior of the flower petals is a great choice that gives the overall composition a pop. The orange shadows also unexpectedly lead the viewer to what looks like an abstract bird in flight at the tip of the hummingbird’s beak.”

David Anthony Geary: “There is a sense of peace and beauty in capturing such a fleeting moment as a hummingbird.”

Sandra Antongiorgi: “When I look at this work, I can’t help but think of the artist. It’s both confident and gentle. The use of color and blending in the flower is excellent. The bright, illuminating orange invites the hummingbird to drink its nectar! Nicely executed.”

MIDDLE SCHOOL WINNERS

Riley P., 11

Sixth-grader, Henry Puffer Elementary School, Downers Grove
Chalk art by Riley P., 11, a sixth-grader at Henry Puffer Elementary School in Downers Grove.
Chalk art by Riley P., 11, a sixth-grader at Henry Puffer Elementary School in Downers Grove.
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Sonja Henderson: “The whale jumping out of the water is a fresh and vibrant work of art. I love the heavy layering and blending of warm pinks, oranges and yellows to contrast the cool ocean blue and mighty Orca. It seems the whale is having as much fun as the artist, or vice versa.”

David Anthony Geary: “The lighthearted sense of motion here paired with the rainbow sky and horizon are uplifting.”

Sandra Antongiorgi: “My favorite thing about this chalk piece is the way the artist drew the water splashing around the whale. It shows us the FORCE of the whale jolting out of the water.”

Yasmyn S., 13

Eighth-grader, National Teachers Academy, Chicago
Chalk art by Yasmyn S., 13, an eighth-grader at National Teachers Academy in Chicago.
Chalk art by Yasmyn S., 13, an eighth-grader at National Teachers Academy in Chicago.
Provided

Sonja Henderson: “I just adore this work of art and its use of space, line and texture. On a narrow passageway framed by grass, the viewer gets a glimpse into the private bathing rituals of flamingos. Parts of the drawing are loose and incomplete, and other parts thoroughly worked, which makes my eye want to stay with the artwork to fill in the gaps with my imagination. There is such a beautiful feeling of rhythm and motion from the awkward angles of the flamingos legs to the water’s ripple effect around their feet.”

David Anthony Geary: “This is a fun play with forced perspective in a playful environment.”

Sandra Antongiorgi: “This artist did a wonderful job balancing the images. There’s this kind of rhythm to the piece that I’m enjoying. I love the layering of warm colors on the flamingo against the cool greens and blues of the landscape.”

Annaliah S., 11

Sixth-grader, Harvard Junior High School, Harvard
Chalk art by Annaliah S., 11, a sixth-grader at Harvard Junior High School in Harvard.
Chalk art by Annaliah S., 11, a sixth-grader at Harvard Junior High School in Harvard.
Provided

Sonja Henderson: “This outstanding lion is king of the jungle and the sidewalks. So much pride and effort went into the rendering of the lion’s face and mane. The floral filigree and lacy vines are a nice contrast to the bold black work. The artist may consider expanding the ornamental vines and leaves to create a concrete jungle.”

David Anthony Geary: “I like the feeling that this is an extension of something existing.”

Sandra Antongiorgi: “The bold, dark lines of this drawing capture the strength of the lion. I really like the patterns around it. It reminds me of a logo or stamp. It would make a great stencil.”

Tegan T., 12

Seventh-grader, Clark Middle School, St. John, Indiana
Chalk art by Tegan T., 12, a seventh-grader at Clark Middle School in St. John, Indiana.
Chalk art by Tegan T., 12, a seventh-grader at Clark Middle School in St. John, Indiana.
Provided

Sonja Henderson: “I hope everyone on the block is partaking in this sidewalk chalk Monopoly game. This seems like so much fun and hearkens back to simpler times of hopscotch and jumping rope. As a work of art, I love the implied movement around the game board but also hope the neighborhood is actually playing Monopoly with gigantic game pieces like the thimble, ship, Schnauzer and top hat.”

David Anthony Geary: “Functional art at its best!”

Sandra Antongiorgi: “I would love to see this one taken even further, with full color! It takes hopscotch to a whole new level. The toilet paper for $700 is a great touch of humor and is a snapshot of 2020. Recording time is one of the roles of an artist.”

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Kian D., 8

Third-grader, Chappell Elementary School, Chicago
Chalk art by Kian D., 8, a third-grader at Chappell Elementary School in Chicago.
Chalk art by Kian D., 8, a third-grader at Chappell Elementary School in Chicago.
Provided

Sonja Henderson: “This darling duck captured my heart with its innocence and expressive quality. I love the bold color choices for the eyes, feet and rainbow-colored body. The young artist also used a lot of energy staying within the lines coloring on a highly textured surface.”

David Anthony Geary: “Super-cute and free. The way children see things fascinates me.”

Sandra Antongiorgi: “This chalk piece makes me smile! I like how the duck looks so friendly with all of its beautiful colors. The head alone has four colors. which is exactly what we see when the sun shines on their feathers!”

Ava S., 10

Fifth-grader, Prairieview Elementary School, Downers Grove
Chalk art by Ava S., 10, a fifth-grader at Prairieview Elementary School in Downers Grove.
Chalk art by Ava S., 10, a fifth-grader at Prairieview Elementary School in Downers Grove.
Provided

Sonja Henderson: “This dreamy hilly landscape is the beginning of a larger adventure for anyone’s imagination. With trees, birds and mountainous terrain, the scene is set for the traveler and artist to keep wandering and discovering. It seems like this young artist mixed water with the chalk to create a more painterly feel to the medium, I love the richness and creaminess of the sky, hills and trees.”

David Anthony Geary: “There’s a fun variety of shapes and colors in this imaginary landscape.”

Sandra Antongiorgi: “Such a serene setting. The more I look at this landscape, the calmer I feel. The pastel green hills look so soft, plump and inviting! Very nice panoramic feel.”

Brothers Jonathan, 6, and Nathan L., 8

First- and third-graders, Dirksen Elementary School, Schaumburg
Chalk art by brothers Jonathan, 6, and Nathan L., 8, first- and third-graders at Dirksen Elementary School in Schaumburg.
Chalk art by brothers Jonathan, 6, and Nathan L., 8, first- and third-graders at Dirksen Elementary School in Schaumburg.
Provided

Sonja Henderson: “What a magnificent abstract work of art. I love the clean-lined negative space and the crisp coloring of the geometric shapes. This sidewalk chalk artwork is a tribute to minimalism. The artwork allows the viewer to appreciate the beauty of the shapes, colors and textures without it being tied to an ‘idea’ or something representational.”

David Anthony Geary: “The geometric abstraction is so eye-catching.”

Sandra Antongiorgi: “The scale of this chalk art took me by surprise! Love the geometric shapes and how it’s divided into three larger parts. The commitment and discipline to thoroughly coloring each and every shape is amazing to me! The colors and shapes demand our attention.”

Anaiz M., 5

Pre-kindergartner, McAuliffe Elementary School, Chicago
Chalk art by Anaiz M., 5, a pre-kindergartner at McAuliffe Elementary School in Chicago.
Chalk art by Anaiz M., 5, a pre-kindergartner at McAuliffe Elementary School in Chicago.
Provided

Sonja Henderson: “This is so sweet. I love the loose narrative of the sun rising or setting over water and what looks like a starfish off to the side. The young artist used great combinations when creating their flag and beach-like scene.”

David Anthony Geary: “Something about this brings up imaginings of space.”

Sandra Antongiorgi: “This invites us to be imaginative. It could be a spaceship, stairs onto the beach, a house, whatever we want it to be. I’m sure it was something specific for the artist, but, for me, it’s a lovely abstract with great repetitive shapes. Beautiful!”

Nayely M., 8

Third-grader, McAuliffe Elementary School, Chicago
Chalk art by Nayely M., 8, a third-grader at McAuliffe Elementary School in Chicago.
Chalk art by Nayely M., 8, a third-grader at McAuliffe Elementary School in Chicago.
Provided

Sonja Henderson: “The bright colors and energetic marks lead the viewer to what looks like lovely flowers and a bird bringing a worm to its nest. A charming little scene.”

David Anthony Geary: “Rainbows make everything a little brighter!”

Sandra Antongiorgi: “Rainbows mean joy and hope for a better tomorrow! They are also fun and innocent. These are the things I see in this awesome chalk art. Art gives us life!”

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