By Ellen Kanervo, Executive Director, Clarksville Arts & Heritage Development Council –
Clarksville‘s children, along with a fair number of adults, are adding to the city’s public art inventory—one rock at a time. And they are engaging in random acts of kindness as they offer others the joy of a chance rock discovery.
In a trend that is sweeping the nation, Clarksvillians are painting rocks—big rocks, little rocks, smooth rocks, backyard rocks—and hiding them around town for others to find, keep, re-hide, or substitute with a painted rock of their own. Rita Arancibia, founder of Arts for Hearts, is harnessing this movement in that organization’s Clarksville Kindness Rocks project to promote random acts of kindness using art as a creative way to touch people. Arts for Hearts, which operates under the umbrella of the Clarksville-Montgomery County Arts and Heritage Development Council, has as its mission to bring together artists and volunteers to build a vibrant and connected community engaged in creating, discovering and participating in the arts.
“When people think about art, they often think of paintings in museums and galleries,” Arancibia says, “but art exists in all of us. For me, art is a joyful thing.” She says painting rocks is a perfect way to overcome the barrier of feeling artistically challenged. “Rocks are a part of nature. Anyone can paint a rock,” she notes. “When you paint and hide a rock, you are creating this little treasure that you share to give you and others joy.”
Arancibia established Clarksville Kindness Rocks program to connect Clarksville’s rock-painting effort to the larger, international Kindness Rocks movement. “It matters that art is connected to the act of being kind,” Arancibia argues. “It’s a simple way to give to others.” Arancibia sees Clarksville Kindness Rocks as a way to integrate arts more fully into our lives and to sponsor a connection to our community. “It brings love and a connection that transcends the art itself. It inspires, comforts and unites us,” she suggests.
Many families on their own are painting rocks to place somewhere in the community. A look at Facebook’s Clarksville Rocks and Clarksville Kindness Rocks pages shows dozens of folks displaying rocks they’ve painted with hints of where they’ll be hidden and of beaming children holding up rocks they’ve found and plan to re-hide for someone else to share that joy. Arancibia set up the Clarksville Kindness Rocks page only a month ago and already it has more than 1,200 followers.
Arts for Hearts has sponsored a number of rock painting and hiding programs to get families started. They recently worked with the Junior Rangers at Dunbar Cave State Natural Area to decorate rocks to place around the grounds for visitors to discover. The Clarksville Police Department has also joined the program to paint and distribute kindness rocks. As one of their bi-monthly free art sessions at the Clarksville-Montgomery County Public Library, Arts for Hearts sponsored a rock-painting program with the theme of Kindness Is Cool-Back to School: Spreading Art and Kindness.
For more information, go to the Arts for Hearts Facebook page or website, www.artsforheartsclarksvile.org.