Battle of blackboards yields imaginative art
12:15 JST, January 20, 2023
Artistic passion can transform a blackboard into a canvas. The winners of the Nichigaku Blackboard Art Contest, in which junior high and high school students compete to produce the most beautiful chalk drawings, have been selected.
The annual contest was inaugurated in 2015 under the sponsorship of Nichigaku Co., a blackboard manufacturer based in Tokyo. Initially, it was open only to high school students, but a junior high school division was established in 2017. The contest also began accepting entries for whiteboard art in 2018 and then expanded to include video entries in 2020.
For the eighth edition of the contest, entries were sought from July to September 2022, and a total of 224 entries were submitted for the four divisions with the participation of 1,457 students.
Like in the past competitions, the latest contest also saw a high-level competition with many outstanding works. Here are some of the prizewinning works.
■ “Kusotohiko” (Imaginary escape)Kaiga Senko Niwatori-tai at Excellent High School in Nagano Prefecture (four students)
Judge comments: In the monotone depiction produced mainly through the use of the original color of the blackboard and white chalk, the rooster’s colored crest catches the eye. The ingenious use of white chalk, especially from the chicken’s neck to its breast, is outstanding. Objects, such as utility poles, buildings, desks and chairs, are not depicted standing straight, except for the flag at the top of the mountain. In addition to the chicken, the goldfish, seemingly trying to swim in such a space, signify the will of living creatures and seem to tell us something about the painters’ thoughts.
Award for excellence
■ “Jura-ki Torai” (Arrival of the Jurassic period)Nebusoku at Omiya Koryo High School in Saitama (five students)
Judge comments: This work depicts a dinosaur with tremendous strength and power. The precision in drawing the scales of the dinosaur was particularly impressive. The curvature of the motifs on both sides surrounding the dinosaur shows the team’s high level of technical skill.
■ “Kasho no Yume” (Dream of utopia)Kobun Gakuen Blackboard Art Team A at Kobun Gakuen Girls’ High School in Osaka (14 students)
Judge comments: This work skillfully depicts a world reminiscent of a fairy tale in a single drawing. The poses of the tiny people are cute and full of humor, with one using a magnet as a footstool and another hanging a rope from a pushpin. The work evidences the joy the team felt in drawing every detail of it.
■ “Susume Kokosen” (Go, high school boat!)Otsu at Yahata Chuo High School in Kitakyushu (six students)
Judge comments: This drawing is dedicated to new students, sending out a message of encouragement from their seniors: “Enjoy your new life in high school.” The pop and cartoonish expressions drawn in the work give the new students hope and courage. The depiction of waves crashing against the ship is also effective in sending such a message.
Grand prize in the junior high school division
■ “Kanagawa Tokaido Enbo no Zu” (Distant view of Tokaido from Kanagawa Prefecture)Matsuda Junior High School’s art club in Kanagawa Prefecture (18 students)
Judge comments: The students skillfully placed the main characters — a boy and a girl — in the center and harmonized them with the scenery of the four seasons beautifully. The use of colors, layout and story structure is impressive. The students demonstrated a high level of artistic skill. This is an excellent work.
Presence of life conveyed
A team from Excellent High School in Nagano Prefecture won the grand prize with “Kusotohiko” (Imaginary escape).
This work was created by four second- and third-year students majoring in painting. Their team name, Kaiga Senko Niwatori-tai, means “team chicken majoring in painting.”
Among many colorful works submitted to the contest, this stylish work basically in black and white had an outstanding presence.
“Because it is in black and white, we were conscious of the sharpness of the work,” said Asuka Mizukami, 17.
In the work, a colossal rooster stands in the center of four sliding screen paintings, creating a mysterious atmosphere. The team spent a month to develop the idea and another month to create this work, which could be interpreted in various ways by its viewers.
The mountains behind the chicken were inspired by the scenery from Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, where their high school is located.
“It was difficult to give the surface of the mountains a three-dimensional touch,” Mirai Motojima, 18, said. “Pieces of chalk were sharpened by a cutter in advance, so that we could draw fine lines like we do with pencils.”
Tilted utility poles depicted in the work are meant to show the anxiety of high school students today, according to the team.
Nanaka Hino, 17, said, “We wanted to express the feelings of depression caused by the prolonged coronavirus pandemic.”
On the other hand, the work also depicts a flag at the top of a mountain, as well as people enjoying climbing the mountains. “We aimed to create a work that evokes playful feelings,” said Ruri Okae, 17.
Another team from the school, Ichinen Bijutsuka Hakubanzu, won the award for excellence in the division of whiteboard art with their work, “Genten-e” (Toward the origin).
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