By Susan Kemp

From mermaids to dragons and self-portraits to pop art, vivid chalk images lined more than 800 squares today in Forsyth Park.

Students, alumni, prospective students and guests from the community joined together for the 31st annual Sidewalk Arts Festival.

The event draws participants from all over the country — this year’s event featured prospective students from seven different states.

But some of the most enthusiastic participants are alumni, who still make it back each year to visit Savannah.

“It’s SCAD’s homecoming,” said President Paula Wallace. “I got a note from an alum who graduated many years ago. Her daughter also graduated last year. She wrote me a little note and said they were both going to be here as alumni participating. So it’s a homecoming.”

Three alumni took home cash prizes this year: Jeremy Caldwell (illustration ’09) from Savannah, Ga., Ellie Grix (art history ’04) from Farmington, Mo., and Alyssa Couturier-Herndon (fashion ’08) from Boston, Mass.

But not everyone in Forsyth was a seasoned veteran. A trio of first-year students — painting major Mirielle Jefferson from Hoover, Ala., industrial design major Alex Jeffers from Cincinnati, Ohio and illustration major Hyeonji Kim from Lagrange, Ga. — took home the coveted “Best of Show” award, garnering the team $1000, for their three-square series of portraits featuring each student mid-scream.

“We’re extremely excited,” Jefferson said. “We each did our own square and tied them together with our hair and colors. I went through a break-up and I was a little frustrated and I was just like let’s scream and yell. I thought it’d be kind of interesting to see how the crowd reacted to it.”

Jefferson was not alone in winning during a Sidewalk Arts debut. Graduate industrial design major Qing Xu from Shang Hai, China wanted to participate this year before graduating in the spring. He and his fellow teammates industrial design major Zhiyi Zhou and interactive design and game development major Yi Zhe Jiang won first place in the graduate student category.

“All of us come from China, but we didn’t want to just draw something like our country’s flag,” said Xu. “So what we did was draw the Chinese dragon. Each person can see our work and imagine China.”

Overall, 21 awards were presented in the undergraduate, graduate, alumni and perspective students categories. A full list can be seen below.

Best of Show:
Mirielle Jefferson, painting, Hoover, Ala.; Alexandra Jeffers, industrial design, Maineville, Ohio; Hyeonji Kim, illustration, Savannah, Ga.

Student – Individual:
1st Nicholas Baker, industrial design, Lehigh Acres, Fla.
2nd Emily Quintero, illustration, Mitchellville, Md.
3rd Chelsea Liberati, painting, Columbus, Ind.

American Greeting:
Roque Silva, industrial design, Tucker, Ga.
Sarah Ikegami, animation, Winter Park, Fla.

Student – Group:
1st Marc Osborne, printmaking, Savannah, Ga.; Katelyn Smith, graphic design, Nashville, Tenn.; Caroline Goodrich, photography, Canton, Conn.
2nd Brandon Loving, illustration, Lee’s Summit, Mo.; Courtney Wirth, illustration, Oak Glen, Calif.
3rd Zhihui Liu, industrial design, Shang Hai, China; Bo Fei, animation, Shang Hai, China.

Graduate Student:
Zhiyi Zhou, industrial design, Savannah, Ga.

1st Jeremy Caldwell, illustration, Savannah, Ga.
2nd Ellie Grix, art history, Farmington, Mo.
3rd Alyssa Couturier-Herndon, fashion, Boston, Mass.

Drawing Minor Award:
Tiffany Pettit, illustration, Winston-Salem, N.C.

Gray’s Award:
Chen Wei-Hsuan, illustration, Taiwan
Amidon Gordon, architecture, Jacksonville, Fla.