Junior creates “Art House” to spread positivity amidst outbreak


Julia Smith

Junior Julia Smith creates a bright message to let young artists know that they are all works of art.

Julia Smith, Staff Writer

The idea came to me while I was drawing with chalk on our front driveway. A few days before, I had started writing questions for people passing by for them to answer. The sidewalk in front of our house soon overflowed with responses. To the question, “What makes you happy?”, someone replied, “Sunshine.” To “What’s your favorite animal?”, someone wrote, “Baby Yoda.”  

I looked over at the old house next door that my parents had just purchased. We planned to tear it down and add the lot onto our backyard, a process that would likely take weeks, if not months. 

“Can we let people paint the house?” I asked my parents, who had come outside to look at the chalk project. 

Within a few hours, the Art House was up and running. I painted a rainbow and a smiling sunshine and  designed a few signs. As long as they followed social distancing guidelines and brought their own paint, anyone was free to add on.  

A week later, the house was nearly covered. Little kids practiced writing their names with thick, awkward brushes. A few artists used stencils to create a beautiful mandala on the garage. “We love West U” appeared on the path to the front door. 

The Art House seemed to be brightening up the neighborhood. 

Of course, the project has not been without its rough patches. 

Despite a sign that said “No spray paint,” many people have covered cute doodles with graffiti letters. One person, in a bold act of defiance, sprayed a dot of paint on the sign. My dad has had to repair a fence that over-excited kids decided to kick in. 

While there have certainly been some issues, the house is overall a hit. Each morning, my parents and I go out to look at new doodles, names and uplifting messages, including one from a child who encourages viewers to “be silly and eat cookies.”

The house has appeared on various social media platforms, including Instagram and VSCO. The Buzz Magazines and Essential News wrote stories on the project, encouraging people to do something creative in these challenging times. 

Isolation is hard. We are social creatures, and even the most introverted among us need to connect in some way. With physical contact out of the question, my family and I decided to introduce a new medium for connection: art. 

Art has always been an important force in my life. My parents keep a box under their bed filled with art projects my siblings and I created when we were younger. Each time I go through it, I’m filled with a sort of happy nostalgia, smiling at poorly drawn fairies and colorful flowers. 

As a child, I expressed connection through art, creating cards for my parents and siblings, making homemade crafts for birthdays, mother’s day, father’s day or just because. 

The Art House is a way to extend that method of communication to others in these difficult times. The messages, small doodles and bright colors make people smile and convey the presence of a community that, during the COVID-19 outbreak, feels far away.

Click here to read a feature on Julia and her Art House by CW39 Houston.