Sidewalk chalk art has traditionally been seen as a fun hobby for young children, but one Windsor, Ont. artist and mother has taken it upon herself to share positive messages for her neighbourhood through chalk art.
Kristen Siapas began creating sidewalk chalk art at the beginning of the pandemic, in spring of 2020.
“It was my way of beautifying the neighbourhood,” Siapas said.
To help alleviate the stress of lockdowns and COVID-19, Siapas began to add positive messages in her artwork which in turn, brought positive messages back to her.
“The first message that I wrote was, ‘everything will be okay,'” Siapas said. “For me, that was the message I wanted to send to the neighbourhood.”
Her hope was that it would bring a positive impact to neighbourhood residents as they walked by.
Since she started the project, neighbours and those walking by have shown a variety of positive reactions, smiling, thanking her in person or calling her to say thank you.
The best reaction, she recalled, came from a complete stranger.
“He pulled a box of sidewalk chalk out of his pocket and put it on the sidewalk right in front of my house and it was just kind of like a little thank you for the work we had done,” Siapas said.
“That really warmed my heart.”
‘It’s a time of anxiety, great stress’
Since that day, Siapas has made it her responsibility to continuously improve her chalk art and messaging.
“Every time it rains that’s a fresh slate. I get to come up with a new idea, or a new quote or inspirational message to add,” she said.
She admits to washing down her previous art with a hose, just to add another inspirational message each time she gets the impulse.
Siapas uses the chalk art as a way of uplifting herself when she is feeling blue.
“If you see these chalk messages on the ground, I want you to imagine that I am feeling the exact opposite and the inspirational message is my message for myself,” she said.
“It’s inspirational for me.”
She acknowledges the stress and anxiety people in her community are feeling from the impact of the pandemic and hopes those walk by, feel a sense of community and support.
“I’ve seen people walking and as soon as they’ve seen the message, they brighten up a little bit. If that spurs them on to do something great for somebody else, then I feel like I’ve accomplished my goal.”