Like Tibetan sand mandalas, which are swept up and scattered on the water, chalk art is about the moment, the process and the creation.
It represents the transitory nature of material life to be savored in the moment. “The fleeting nature of my work is part of the beauty of it,” says Lighthouse Point chalk artist, Carrie Bennett, 34, who paints large, colorful images of jeweled fruit, lions and portraits. “The whole point of my art, she says, “is to create something live and immediate.” An award-winning artist who won Best in Show at the Broward Art Guild Quick Draw event in 2015 and Best in Show for Twelve by 12 at ArtServe in 2014, Bennet often meditates on a theme for inspiration, until an image pops into her mind.
By definition, chalk art, is ephemeral.
“The fact that the work does not remain, creates an urgency to see it,” renowned installation artist Christo, is quoted as saying.
Christo, along with his wife, Jeanne-Claude, created the Gates Project in 2005 in New York City’s Central Park.
“For instance, if someone were to tell you, ‘Oh, look on the right, there is a rainbow.’ You will never answer, ‘I will look at it tomorrow,’” he says.
Both Bennett and Christo express a desire to make the world a more beautiful place, and in Bennett’s case, to inspire the viewer.
“I try to communicate a story to uplift and inspire and my work is spiritual in nature,” says Bennett. “My paintings are intentionally large and colorful to convey emotion or expressions of joy.”
Her 10 x 10-ft. Picasso-like painting, “Beloved,” depicts a large visage of a woman’s face morphing into the face of a lion. The woman’s side of the face is framed in a mane of four red roses, mirroring the lion’s mane of hair, adorning the lion’s half of the face.
“It’s a story of strength, beauty and vision,” says Bennett. “Having this lion of strength inside, awakens our beauty and brings us to life. It’s about having vision and boldness to see ourselves and others through eyes of hope and promise.” “I want the audience to be struck by the beauty of the lion and to see themselves in the picture, allowing the artwork to speak to them,” Bennett says.
Along with lions, a symbol of strength, power and courage, Bennett’s subject matter includes crowns and women laughing or expressing joy.
When painting, Bennett often breaks the plane of the box, extending a wing or bird outside the lines, pushing the envelope and breaking boundaries. Jeweled Harvest, a street painting Bennett created last November for the Sarasota international Chalk Festival in Venice, Florida, depicts images of large, super-saturated jeweled fruit; the purple grapes reminiscent of large, dichroic stained glass panels; a geometric orange slice, and bright bunches of raspberries shimmering in the background.
Selected as one of four Americans to participate in the International Street Art Fest in Wilhelmshaven, Germany last year, Bennett created a large 8×10 ft. chalk drawing titled Die Blaue Blume (The Blue Flower), symbolizing the German Romantics ideals of artistic and spiritual fulfillment.
John May, a sand sculptor from Ft. Lauderdale, who knows something about working in an ephemeral medium, says, “Carrie’s work is imbued with spiritual meaning which adds depth to her work. She’s always challenging herself as an artist,” he says. “She pushes the boundaries of traditional art with her use of vibrant, bright colors, dramatic contrasts and creates works of art that are literally, larger than life.”