You would be hard-pressed to visit a college or university campus and not find an enormous painted rock. Placing large commemorative boulders on university campuses has been happening since nearly the founding of the first institution of higher education in the United States. Painting them has become a modern-day fixture of campus life.
Rebel Nell is thrilled to launch our Campus Rock Collection. More than just tokens of school pride, these rock stars have a long history of becoming a platform for social activism.
As early as the mid-1800s, giant rocks—many left behind from glaciers—were placed on campuses as gifts from the graduating class, as monuments to our forefathers, and to commemorate important events. For nearly 100 years, these behemoths remained relatively untouched until the 1950s, when rival schools often committed the earliest acts of graffiti ahead of a big game.
Soon after, the guerilla-style expression of graffiti would lend itself to protesting social causes. Whether advocating for peace, equality, freedom, or tolerance, these rocks stood as silent but mighty voices of the oppressed.
While the graffiti on campus rocks often represents how we are divided, on September 11, 2001, they unanimously spoke of our unity. Messages of hope, survival and American grit were emblazoned on campus rocks across the country. A powerful reminder that we can find agreement in the darkest moments.
Messages of joy and love also adorn campus rocks, from birthday wishes to graduation salutes to marriage proposals. They celebrate Pride Month and national championship wins; they wish passersby a happy holiday season and beckon them to attend the latest theater performance.
One of the most touching tributes happened at Michigan State University on April 9, 2014, when hundreds gathered at the campus rock to hold a vigil for Lacey Holsworth—dubbed "Princess Lacey," an 8-year-old girl with terminal cancer who befriended the MSU Basketball team and whose story was a source of inspiration nationwide. Students painted the rock with "MSU Loves Princess Lacey" on the front and "Love Like Lacey" around the base. Students then signed the rock with a black sharpie, leaving their messages to Lacey, who had passed that morning.
More than just team solidarity, our Campus Rock Collection is a piece of history, a layer of protest, and a simple reminder that a splatter of paint can provide hope, support, and a platform for social action.
Rebel Nell has the perfect piece for your student, recent graduate, or passionate alumni! It's an ideal way to show your team spirit and wear a little bit of history. Check out our latest collection in-store and online before these limited edition pieces disappear.