Chalking with H: That’s Problematic!

There are lot of different issues I want to chalk about and raise awareness for through Chalk With Me and chalktivism., but representing anything is difficult in a single drawing. Every picture and every piece of art can only depict so much. The problem (and the beauty) of art is that it relies heavily on the viewers own interpretations. Every picture will have its problems, its grey areas, its limits.


It is only a partial vision after all. Each chalk drawing or painting or sketch or what have you is created through the lens or lenses of the artists who  created it. One picture will never represent ‘the whole picture’ of any issue, even multiple pictures will still be partial, and fragments of something bigger: one or more individual views on an issue only.

Shiphrah and I can collaborate on chalk poetry and chalk art that speaks to things we feel passionately about, and things that we have researched and/or experienced in are own lives (ageism, racism, homophobia, biphobia etc.) But having other voices and chalkers to share their experiences and help us represent issues fairly and more thoroughly is integral to our project. We want your help! Your experiences! Your ideas, and your chalk collaborations!

For instance, I would love to do some chalking on trans* awareness and chalk things to fight transphobia in public spaces. But as a queer, cisgender ally I don’t want to draw anything that might be problematic or offensive to the trans community. What kind of pictures could be chalked out to break down stereotypical gender norms and just create general awareness and respect for non-normative genders and identities?

I was thinking of doing some kind of picture where chalk people are asking each other their preferred pronouns. What do you think?

Please do let me know your thoughts on this!! Via Facebook, twitter, or email at

So far we have tried to make all of our chalk people gender neutral, but in doing so many viewers automatically see them as the default, as ‘male.’ We feel that delving into ‘gendering’ them with clothing, hair, chalk colour, etc. could also be hugely problematic.

Of course, I believe that any attempt of representation is in someway problematic, and offensive to someone, somewhere. Our job is to try to represent things as best we can, and consult others who have more knowledge and/or personal experience on the topic(s). We must also recognize and acknowledge that our drawings are and will always be partial visions. They will never be without problems. And they will always be interpreted differently by each viewer who look upon them through their own set of fragmented lenses, hand-crafted, cracked and stained from personal experiences, politics and identity.


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