Hidden Rocks Create Happiness
Hamilton County Hidden Rocks art spreads kind messages in Fishers.
Writer / Jocelyn Vare
Photography /Courtney Burke, Krystal Rock, Shannon Vanderpohl, Jocelyn Vare
I was walking my dog at my Fishers neighborhood park recently when I noticed something peculiar on the ground. A rock unlike any I’d ever seen was resting at the foot of a large tree. The rock was painted with colorful hearts and one simple word, “Hello.”
I’ve never been greeted so sweetly by a rock before. I smiled, picked it up and peered closer at its message. It was artistically designed on the front and had an important message on the back. It read, “Find me, take a photo, rehide me, make someone else smile! Share the photo of your find on the “Hamilton County Hidden Rocks” Facebook page.”
This was no ordinary rock. I found a tiny piece of artwork. And, I found the rock’s mission even more charming than its whimsical design. I placed the rock back in its hiding place to dutifully snap a picture, which was photo–bombed by my dog. After our walk, I visited the “Hamilton County Hidden Rocks” Facebook page to post my delightful find.
That’s how I joined the chain of a remarkably simple, wholly inclusive and generously compassionate local art project. I learned from the “Hamilton County Hidden Rocks” Facebook page that I found a single bit of a large, local activity that spreads happiness via hundreds of painted rocks. The purpose of each rock is to brighten a stranger’s day. Rock artwork can feature any family-friendly message or design that will evoke a smile.
I met up with the creator of the “Hamilton County Hidden Rocks” Facebook page, Courtney Burke of Noblesville. She told me that she first learned of a hidden rock art initiative in another state recently and was motivated to kick it off in her Indiana community.
“I realized that it was a perfect activity for kids,” Courtney says. “Painting and hiding rocks is a great way to be creative, do something nice for others, and spend time outside and off-screens. Everyone who has posted on the Facebook page says that finding a rock made them happy.”
Through the “Hamilton County Hidden Rocks” Facebook page, I also met the artist of the rock I had found. Diana Hirneisen was as excited to learn that her artwork had been found as I was to discover it. Diana designed several rocks with her granddaughter and hid them around the Fishers area.
“Painting rocks was an activity I first suggested for my seven year-old granddaughter but since then I have created and hidden dozens more rocks on my own,” Diana says. “I love creating these little bits of art and seeing how they bring joy when someone discovers them.”
As Diana explained it, designing and hiding rocks is a fulfilling activity that brings people together with creativity and kindness. In Hamilton County, hidden rocks are becoming more popular as people of all ages create and find them around the community.
Barnes & Noble in Noblesville recently offered a free, open to the public, rock painting open house. When I was there, I met families from across Hamilton County who came to paint, create and spread happiness with a rock.
“Because Barnes & Noble is a community bookstore, we can serve Hamilton County in a way no online retailer can,” store manager, Alicia Gebert, says. “Barnes & Noble is introducing customers to this new art activity to show how fun and easy it is to share kindness in your neighborhood.”
When my dog and I discovered a pretty “Hello” rock at our Fishers neighborhood park, I was charmed by the happy surprise and welcomed into a public art project for everyone. I discovered that kindness really rocks.
Hidden Rock Art Tips
- Paint, paint pens and markers work well on smooth stones
- On the back of the rock, place the instructions to post a find to the “Hamilton County Hidden Rocks” Facebook page. You can print an instruction note to stick on the rock or write directly on the rock.
- After you’ve completed your design, let it dry.
- Seal with a coat of Mod Podge.
- Hide in a public place where it can be found. Do not place rocks on private property or in National Parks.
- If you find a rock, post a photo to the “Hamilton County Hidden Rocks” Facebook page and tag with #HamCoRocks