Rock on: Painted reminders of shared humanity

February 2018 Posted in Community, Garden
Elyse McGowan-Kidd 2

Artwork by: Elyse McGowan-Kidd

By Melissa Wagoner

Rocks, often intricately painted, have begun popping up in the parks, outside of businesses, even in the trees all over Silverton. Three groups, organized using Facebook pages, are responsible for many of these little gems all with a similar purpose.

“In a world that can be so frustrating, sad and with all of the tragedies that seem to be on the TV what seems like every day, it can be hard to see the good the world has to offer,” Shannon Haney, founder of Angel Rocks Silverton, OR said. “One of the things that I fell in love with was the fact that this project has no race, religion, political agenda, etc. It’s about people supporting people, people wanting to have fun and wanting to inspire others, or make others smile.”

Haney, who has collected rocks all of her life, came to the idea of painting them last year while on vacation with her husband and children. Upon finding a rock with “Oxford Rocks FB”, the family uncovered a whole society devoted to painted stone.

“They have thousands and thousands of people that participate and it was so much fun,” she said. “I love the stories… of all the states a certain rock had traveled through or how much they meant to someone.”

Upon her return to Oregon she created Angel Rocks as a way to continue the fun.

“We started painting rocks here because I realized many people in Silverton were searching for something or wanted some-thing to look forward too and really wanted to get away from phones etc.,” she said.

Rock artist, Chelsea Dahlberg, founder of the Silverton Rocks – Oregon Facebook page, had a similar experience. She was introduced to the hobby via her cousin who hosts a page in Port Angeles, Washington.

“I started painting rocks as a way to express myself creatively and share my art with others,” she said. “Many times we create art and it stays in our home with us; this is a way to share it with the outside world and it brightens people’s days. I think we all can use a little happiness no matter where we are in our lives. These painted stones are tiny reminders that there is goodness and positivity in the world.”

Elyse McGowan-Kidd also thinks something as small as a painted rock can make a big difference in someone’s day, or life. A participant in both groups, McGowan-Kidd has banded with others and begun painting rocks with an important purpose – to support LGBTQ children in Silverton.

“I wanted to find a way to show these kids, a kid in particular that we are here, that we have his back, that we are present and we are trying as a community to show support,” she said.

Along with themed rocks McGowan-Kidd, a graphic artist, has also designed a pin which she is using to raise money for the local Gay Straight Alliance and other similar non-profits.

“If one kid or person in town is struggling to find their place or their voice and is lifted up by my pins or my rocks, then I have been successful,” she said.

All three women agree that the hobby of painting and hunting for rocks is gaining popularity and that it may have less to do with rocks and more to do with the connectedness the hobby creates.

“I can tell you that when you are having a rough day and you look over and find a painted rock whether it was by a two year old or the most talented artist, it makes your day,” Haney said. “I hope that people, despite their beliefs, political affiliation, life choices etc. will remember that we are all human, that underneath everything we are more alike as people than we are different, to be the change you want to see in the world, to take time and stop to talk to someone new. If anything, unplug, get out of the house, enjoy this one life, and to have fun. It goes fast.”

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