Made In Chicago: Chalking It Over

Nina Tiberi-Sawica decided to use her art to send positive messages.
Photo credit WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Nina Tiberi-Sawica calls her self a chalkologist.

"I thought chalk artist was too, not expressing the fun that's involved in it, so I came up with something more bubbly, creative, I guess," she laughed.

Her artistry soon became her business.

"We started this little business called Chalking It Over that specializes in creating customizes signs for restaurants, local businesses, but also parties and local events. I started out in the restaurant scene while I was customizing some different signs for different events. It expanded from there. Friends were getting married, friends were starting families and wanting to celebrating the happy moments in life," she said.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic, like many, her business came to a sudden halt. Last week, as she was driving around her neighborhood, she realized she could use her talents for something else: dozens of storefronts throughout the city boarded up as a result of looting and property damage.

At Carol's Pub in Uptown, the plywood now has a message of music, love, and support.

"It's a hair salon. It was our most collaborative community piece so far," Tiberi-Sawica said.

"When I heard Nina was doing this I knew I had to help," said Christine Haase, friend/volunteer. "This expanded quickly and it was such an honor to be part of it and spread her message of positivity. All of Chicago is hurting and we wanted to do what we could."

Tiberi-Sawica said as people saw her working on a board, more joined in. Soon enough bright colors and messages of solidarity brought a little light during a dark time.

Tiberi-Sawica calls it "Chalktivism".

Chalking It Over was always about messages of happiness and hope. Now she said it's about healing.

"We all benefit from art in the community in lots of different ways and it can be healing. If it can provide a little bit of a glimmer of hope that this world, if we come together, we can make it better, than it's a pretty important message to share," Tiberi-Sawica said.

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