Topeka artist overcomes homelessness to owning art studio

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Chelsea Smith moved to Topeka seven years ago, going from being homeless to owning an art studio in the NOTO Arts District.

Chelsea was adopted and raised in Arkansas. When she was 21, Chelsea and her wife, Jax, decided to find her biological mom who lived in Topeka.

“I found my birth mother on Facebook,” Chelsea said. “So I decided to contact her. She’s like, ‘well, we need to meet!’ and I was like, “Yes we do!’ So next thing we knew, probably just a few weeks later, we came down here to meet her.”

After meeting her birth mother, she suggested Chelsea move to Topeka. Seven years ago they made the move, despite not having somewhere stable to stay. Chelsea and her wife lived in other people’s houses in south Topeka.

“We lived there for a little bit and we moved from house to house,” Chelsea said.

They walked to work, showered in yards and found money for food wherever they could.

It was art that saved them. It’s always been something Chelsea was interested in since she was a little girl. She and Jax worked to open Studio 62. The studio offers different classes and events, giving others a chance to have artistic freedom no matter their skill level.

“I get a little depressed if I’m not painting,” Chelsea said. “If I’m not teaching people, and people aren’t wanting to paint I’m like, ‘nobody’s called to paint, and I just want to teach and why aren’t they coming?'”

Chelsea and Jax did anything they could to make a living, most importantly, still following their dreams.

“I’ve been through really hard times,” Chelsea said. “Taking showers in the rain. Stuff like that. Finding change to eat. But I never gave up. I knew my goal and I just kept going for it.”

Chelsea’s main message she wants people to take away every time they come to the studio is to follow your dreams and never give up when it gets rough.

Jax is a behind the scenes kind of girl. She actually operates the bar inside of the studio.

There are many events the studio holds each month, even having a haunted tour for Friday the 13th in their building.

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