Homegrown Studio, a West Hartford art studio, has seen its positive message go viral on Instagram.
By Dexter McCann
The outbreak of COVID-19 has been a trying and difficult time for all of us, but Homegrown Studio, a West Hartford art studio for children ages 1 to 10, is doing everything they can to spread a positive message both locally and throughout the art community.
#StayHomeSpreadJoy, a hashtag started by the studio’s instagram account (@homegrownfriends), has spread throughout the country and even internationally, reaching from Connecticut to Colorado to Australia.
When Governor Lamont ordered the closure of schools and nonessential businesses, Homegrown Studio was one of thousands of stores and small businesses forced to close their doors. That didn’t deter Meredith Magee Donnelly, the owner and operator of Homegrown Studio, as well as her three children, from creating art.
Donnelly and her family got out their markers and set out to create something both beautiful and positive. One of her sons created a sign with the slogan “We’ve got this” as a way to persevere against the tough times brought upon by the coronavirus. The sign got positive feedback from friends and neighbors, so Donnelly decided to post the sign to instagram with the hashtag #StayHomeSpreadJoy.
The post was captioned with a call to action: “Would you make a message to your neighborhood and hang it on your door, home, or your apartment windows,” and many of Donnelly’s followers delivered.
Donnelly’s Instagram account has over 8,500 followers, many of whom run their own children’s art studios. Several of those followers posted their own messages in their respective communities, which ranged from serious (“Stronger Together”) to lighthearted (“Do a silly dance as you walk by”). The hashtag spread throughout the country and even as far as Australia, and “really took off organically,” according to Donnelly.
We just asked our followers to “take a moment with something as simple as markers and paper to make a difference with something that’s been unsettling to so many kids and families,” Donnelly added.
The Donnelly family’s message has spread all throughout the world, but Homegrown Studio is just as dedicated to serving the West Hartford community. When the studio is open, it caters to young children who want to explore art outside of the confines of a classroom. That’s reflected in the studio’s lighthearted slogan: “This is where the fun happens.”
Donnelly started the Homegrown Studio after Homegrown Friends, her art blog, started gaining popularity on the internet. Donnelly, who has a masters degree in early children’s education, started “sharing everything I [she] knew as educator” via her blog and instagram page, and combined her teaching knowledge with her passion for art in the founding of the studio.
On the Homegrown website, the studio is described as a “place filled with happy, messy art and sensory experiences for kids and adults.” Those experiences include classes for children and camps in the summer.
In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Homegrown Studio has been unable to continue with their on-site classes. Starting next week, however, studio students and clients will be able participate in three to five live online sessions per week.
For students unable to attend classes, Donnelly has prepared a set of art kits that are connected with different children’s books in order to encourage kids to stay active with art during their quarantine.
As we continue to combat the COVID-19 outbreak in West Hartford, positive messages like the ones spread by Homegrown Studio will become all the more important, Donnelly said. When the outbreak finally does pass, the studio will be open for business once again.
“We can’t wait to start doing classes in the studio again,” said Donnelly.
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