Jennifer Atkins Brown
EDEN—The Rockingham County Quilt Trail’s two newest quilt square additions are a representation of their designers’ culture, backgrounds and love of their communities and country.
RaShaun Wilson’s great-grandmother was half Native American, and his 93-year-old grandmother is an artist, so when Wilson and his wife, Kionna, decided to create a square for the trail, their cultural backgrounds played a huge part in their design .
“I was thinking about myself and where I came from since I’m Native American and African American, and I wanted to have a representation of that,” Wilson said.
The Wilson’s finished creation, the 35th quilt square on the trail, depicts a Native American and African American flag with a symbol for the word Eden, signifying Rashaun Wilson’s hometown, in the center. The square is displayed at the Fine Arts Festival Association of Rockingham County, located at 301 Cherokee Camp Road, Reidsville (Wentworth area). The couple, who run the Vision and Opportunity Culture Center for the Arts in downtown Draper, created their square last summer while leading an Art and Diversity workshop for the FAFARC. After the two-week workshop, the couple presented the square to the FAFARC for display on the trail.
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“I’m ecstatic with the way the final product turned out,” RaShaun Wilson said. “It’s mind blowing to see it in its final resting place.”
Each symbol, such as the arrowheads depicted, as well as the design and colors were chosen with a purpose.
“The red, for instance, represents the blood shed from our ancestors, which paved the way to where we are today,” he said.
Jessie Gunter came up with the idea to create the trail’s 36th quilt square after moving to Eden from Stokesdale in 2020. A homeschool mom and pregnant with her fourth child at the time, she was looking for things to do with her children, especially while being cooped up in the house during the coronavirus pandemic. She had noticed and admired quilt squares she had seen in the mountains, and one of her mother’s friends told her about the Rockingham County Quilt Trail.
“I thought to myself, ‘We’ve got to get out of this house,” Gunter said. “We drove and saw them all.”
Gunter incorporated the quilt trail adventure in her home-school curriculum for her two middle school boys and had them write an essay about what their own square might look like and mean.
“That trip made me decide that I want one (a quilt square),” she said. “I love the sense of community that surrounds the Rockingham County Quilt Square.”
Gunter, who also took up fabric quilting during the pandemic, signed up for a class in Walnut Cove on creating an art square and set to work creating her own work of art.
The 36th quilt square on the Rockingham County Quilt Square is proudly displayed above the front door of Gunter’s home, located at 308 Highland Drive, in Eden, a block from the Eden’s historic district. Gunter’s square is a star design, utilizing red, white and blue colors.
“I love how it turned out, and my quilt club loved it,” Gunter said.
Gunter said her children now love to look for quilt squares everywhere they go now.
“It’s a fun thing for them to spot,” she said.
Rockingham County Tourism is thrilled about the addition of the two squares to the Rockingham County Quilt Trail.
The two squares are beautifully unique from any other squares on the trail and reflect the array of culture we have in our county,” said Tara Martin, marketing manager for Rockingham County Economic Development, Small Business and Tourism. “The Rockingham County Quilt Trail truly is one of the best ways to experience all of the wonderful things Rockingham County has to offer as it guides trail followers through all of our quaint towns, down our breathtaking country roads, and into our unique shopping districts. ”
Begun in 2015, the Rockingham County Quilt Trail celebrates the county’s local agriculture, community artists and rich cultural heritage. Each quilt block on the trail has a meaning and story of its own.
The self-guided tour allows residents and visitors to experience Rockingham County’s beautiful rural landscape, including historic tobacco barns, vineyards, farm stands and country stores along the way. The quilt squares are painted by the local artists on 4-foot by 4-foot squares of different mediums. Each square is a celebration of the rich agricultural heritage of Rockingham County.