Chalk murals inspire school spirit

Cindy Song’s elaborate game-day chalking promote football program

lffootballchalkingcourtesyelizabethcornick

Song begins her final football mural of Cav Man pushing back against Miami’s Ibis.

Courtesy Elizabeth Cornick

If you have ever walked past Minor Hall before a home football game, you have probably noticed the chalk masterpieces created by fourth-year College student Cindy Song, depicting that weekend’s football face-off. This weekend for the Hoos’ last home game against Miami, Song finished up the season with a final football mural of Cav Man pushing back against Miami’s Ibis. 


“Most of them haven’t been very violent or anything. I had the one with the [Pittsburgh mascot] facing off with the Cav Man, but I usually don’t do more violent ones,” Song said. “I like the idea of being more welcoming, but everyone seemed to like when I put the [Louisville mascot] cardinal in the cage, so that’s why this one is going to be a little more confrontational as well.”

Song, who is in the advanced painting course in the McIntire Department of Art, first painted murals on the hallways of her middle school with her best friend. Although her work in the art program does not overlap with mural painting, when she saw an ad emailed about the opportunity to chalk murals for the home football games she decided to answer it.

The Athletic Department reached out art students to find unique ways to promote athletic events to students on Grounds, Sarah Whitney, Song’s employer and assistant director of marketing for the Athletic Department, said.

“Because chalking is such a big part of the U.Va. culture and is an effective grassroots marketing tactic, we thought a powerful piece of chalk art would be very impactful and catch students’ attention,” Whitney said in an email statement.

Each chalk mural takes Song about six hours to complete. Before the actual chalking starts and her slogans have been assigned, Song researches the opponent’s mascots, sketches a few thumbnails in her notebook, decides on one and sets up her chalk and the tent.

“I sketch it out with a piece of chalk stuck on a bamboo stick, and the bamboo stick is nice because it gives me distance and perspective, whereas if I were squatting down here and drawing something much bigger than I can see I would do it wrong,” Song said.

The murals are hugely popular, as many passersby will stop to admire Song’s mural and tell her how much they enjoy her work. Even in the course of her interview with The Cavalier Daily, two people stopped to praise her artwork.

“We’ve posted pictures of the art on our Virginia Cavaliers Facebook, VirginiaSports Twitter and GoHoos Snapchat accounts. Alumni, students and fans have responded really positively to her artwork,” Whitney said.

Apart from the chalk murals, Song said she is working on her fourth year thesis, which will involve putting together an art show.

“I’m trying to balance technique and skill with intellectual weight — those are what make good art,” Song said. “Something that’s smart and means something.”

Even though Song does not like going to the football games herself, she said she wants her murals to encourage attendance for people who enjoy football.

“I hope people go to games. Maybe people will look and think ‘Oh, this is a cool chalk mural. Maybe I’ll go to the game,” Song said. “The goal is to encourage more people to go to the games … and it would be nice to complete my task successfully.” 

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