Quilt Trail Comes to Huntington

“Delila’s Quilt”, Kathy Ferrell 2009, 8×8′ acrylic on wood

after quilt by Adaline Delila Carter of Marion Co.

Steve Shaluta, photographer, © WV Dept. of Commerce

The Appalachian Quilt Trail gained a tentative toe-hold within the city limits of Huntington, West Virginia in the summer of 2009. The city allocated the funds for the project on 14th Street West, an antiques district better known as Old Central City. I was fortunate enough to be commissioned for four of  the 8 cornerstone pieces, and after the pleasant surprise of seeing my work on the cover of a special edition of Wonderful West Virginia  magazine, I suppose it’s time to share my thoughts and a few of the photos from this project. It is my hope that soon Huntington and/or some of the many local improvement organizations will bring this project to other neighborhoods throughout the city.

“Rising Sun” Kathy Ferrell 2009, 8×8′ acrylic on woodafter quilt by Eva Dicie Folks Wamsley of Randolph Co.Photo by Steve Shaluta, © WV Dept. of Commerce

I believe that public art such as this would be of great value to building community unity in the east end of Huntington. Over twenty years ago, artist Bill Sayres painted some lovely murals on the flood wall in the Guyandotte neighborhood. Neglect and abuse have sadly destroyed them, and not much remains but faint outlines, peeling paint and the always enlightening spray-painted declarations of the social status of the mentally limited. I feel better knowing that Tina and Mark (relax, not their real names) will be in “True Love Always”. It’s good to see one’s name in print.

“Project Begins” © Kathy Ferrell 2009
“Pattern Transfer” © Kathy Ferrell 2009
“‘Delila’s Quilt’ in progress” ©Kathy Ferrell 2009

The quilts that I painted were chosen by the project director from photos in Fawn Valentine’s book, “West Virginia Quilts & Quiltmakers: Echoes From the Hills”, Ohio University Press 2000.

While Ms. Valentine has written a beautiful, informative and incredibly  thorough book, only one of the quilts chosen by the project director  was created in Huntington. This city is not lacking in extremely talented fabric artists, possessed of remarkable design and color sense. Were the world my own to run, I’d like to see the quilters in the various sections of Huntington submit photos of their quilts to be depicted on more squares in their own neighborhood, with both their own name and the name of the painter depicted on the front lower-right corner of each work, just as it is done in other creativity-friendly cities. Perhaps if the elusive Tina & Mark were aware that it was their own grandmother’s artistic effort they were considering for “enhancement”, they would be enticed to put work on paper, and increase their own originality.

“Appliqué Medallion” Kathy Ferrell 2009, 8×8′ acrylic on woodafter quilt by Ann Thomas Pritchard of Mercer Co.Photo by Steve Shaluta © WV Dept. of Commerce
“Grapes & Vines” Kathy Ferrell 2009, 8×8′ acrylic on wood after quilt by Emma Rosensteel Davis of Cabell Co.Photo by Steve Shaluta © WV Dept. of Commerce


Click the link below for several shots of the hardworking Mr. Long and staff from Absolute Inc. in Guyandotte, as they hang these giant works with precision and care. They did a fantastic job!

Local artists’ work featured in Central City community beautification project – The Herald Dispatch

I would enjoy doing more squares for my own neighborhood. These very large ones are certainly impressive for their size, but I think small neighborhoods would be better served by 4×4‘ images. Once photos of entries are gathered, allow the neighborhood residents to vote on what they’d like to see depicted on their streets. Local business owners would be more open to the idea of allowing a square to be placed on their property if they were given some choice in which piece they’d like. In short, public art should be just that. Public. I believe that this would help residents feel a connection to the works, and thereby encourage residents to “watch over” the pieces for years. I have always admired Bill Sayres’ work. I watched him paint some of the murals, and it really wasn’t so long ago for a town to have no record. In all my searching, however, I have been unable to trace the origins of how the Guyandotte Flood Wall Murals began. Was Mr. Sayres volunteering his time? Who initiated this large effort? What sort of paint was used? If we knew this last bit of information, we could have preserved what has been pretty much lost. Unfortunately, it appears too late. I am sorry to say that the only viable answer to such deterioration is to sandblast the walls and start over. They lasted only briefly, just like opportunity.

My sincere thanks go to Steve Shaluta, for beautiful photographs, W.V. Dept. of Commerce for choosing my work for the cover, Mr. Long and staff at Absolute Inc., located in Guyandotte, for the top-notch job they did of hanging these behemoths. If you need to hire honest professional folks with a fine work ethic, look to him first! The Herald Dispatch & Mark Webb, thanks to Karen Fields & the staff of the Guyandotte Public Library, for assistance with research, and Kelly Cramer & Kristin Dwyer, sales reps. for Blick Art Materials, for an encyclopedic knowledge of the products available. Thanks to the fine folks at Moore’s Hardware in Guyandotte. These patient gentlemen have built up a very jovial tolerance for their harried neighborhood artist. Thanks to the very gracious Fawn Valentine,  and most especially, thanks to the quilters who did the original quilts. Taste and talent always show. May they ever rise.


©Kathy Ferrell and “Big Cup O’Blog” (blog about Cup O Swank Studio), 2011.  WV Dept. of Commerce photographs used with permission. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or copyright owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kathy Ferrell and Big Cup O’Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


2 comments on “Quilt Trail Comes to Huntington

  1. Kathy, One thing I like about your quilt paintings is how you credit the original artist. That’s good and counters what the art historian Lincoln Cushing decries as artists’ cultural amnesia. Google images makes it too easy to “sample” another person’s creations.

  2. Thank you for noticing that. My refusal to treat the work of other artists as “Public Fodder” has sometimes been a bone of contention in my home state. Art is truly for every one to enjoy, but I really believe that “just because your eye takes it in doesn’t mean you can take it”.

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