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Program 803

1. the Overbrook tapestry
2. Jenny Wiley State Resort Park
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Fayette County

For more information:
William T. Young Library, 500 S. Limestone St., Lexington, KY 40506, (859) 257-0500

Producer/editor: Charlee Heaton
Videographer: Frank Simkonis
Audio: Gary Mosley

Weaving a Story

The Overbrook tapestry

Patrons of the W.T. Young Library at the University of Kentucky can admire a hand-woven tapestry depicting the library’s chief benefactor, Lexington horse breeder and philanthropist William T. Young, with his prize stallion Storm Cat at Young’s Overbrook Farm. In this episode of Kentucky Life, we take you inside the artist’s process for a look at how this impressive piece of textile art was created.

Overbrook is the work of Helena Hernmarck, a Swedish-born weaver who emigrated to Canada in the early 1960s. Schooled in traditional Swedish weaving, she saw her move to the New World as an opportunity to meld some more avant-garde techniques, colors, and subjects into her work. Now living and working in Connecticut, she is frequently commissioned to create large works for lobbies, public buildings, and other large spaces.

Our look at the tapestry now hanging in Lexington starts with Hernmarck’s first trips to Kentucky to meet Young and tour his farm. After forming her ideas for the composition of the work, she traveled back to her native Sweden to have wool spun and dyed to her exacting specifications.

The Overbrook tapestry was unveiled on June 23, 2001. Smaller, more personal works by Hernmarck—even miniatures—can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm. In 2000, she was named the Swedish American of the year by the Vasa Order of America—an honor she shares with such previous winners as Chief Justice William Rehnquist, astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Nobel Prize winner Glenn T. Seaborg.

Kentucky Life previously visited the William T. Young Library to explore its architecture and high-tech fixtures in Program 615.

For more information:
Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, 75 Theatre Ct., Prestonsburg, KY 41653-9799, (800) 325-0142

Producer, videographer, audio: Gale Worth
Editor: Dan Taulbee

Hiking Through History

Jenny Wiley State Resort Park

Another of Kentucky’s renowned state parks is next on the agenda, and this one comes with a little history lesson. Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, located in the Appalachian highlands in Floyd County, is named for Virginia “Jenny” Wiley, a pioneer woman who became a legend by escaping from a Cherokee hunting party after nine months of captivity.

Born in Pennsylvania, Jenny moved to what is now Bland County, Virginia as a teenage bride. Ten years later, in 1789, a party of Cherokees seeking revenge for a raid in which two members of their band were killed attacked the Wiley homestead while husband Thomas was away. After killing Jenny’s brother and three of her children, the Indians took Jenny—who was pregnant at the time—and her remaining son captive. They later murdered the boy, as well as the child Jenny delivered. But they kept Jenny with them for nine months while they moved around the region. Jenny’s odyssey took her to Kentucky’s Big Sandy Valley at the junction with the Ohio River, then south through present-day Carter, Lawrence, and Johnson counties. Finally, as they camped at the falls of Little Mudlick Creek, Jenny saw her chance and made her escape. She came upon a hunting party of white settlers at Harman’s Station on John’s Creek, and they escorted her back home.

Jenny and Thomas Wiley went on to have five more children. In 1800, they moved to a new home near the site of Jenny’s escape from captivity. Thomas died in 1810, but Jenny lived to the age of 71. She died in 1831 and is buried in Johnson County.

In contrast to the harsh conditions faced by settlers of Jenny Wiley’s day, modern-day visitors to the park named in her honor find a full-featured resort, with amenities from a 1,000-acre lake to an 18-hole golf course. But the natural beauty and abundance that made the area attractive to pioneers is still much in evidence: There are miles of hiking trails, campgrounds for roughing it, and guided canoe trips along the creek where Jenny made her reappearance. A long-running drama about her life is one of several plays that rotate throughout the summer at the park’s amphitheater.

On our visit, host Dave Shuffett talks with park manager Mark McLemore. In the photo, naturalist Ron Vanover introduces him to a reptilian native of the region.

SEASON 8 PROGRAMS: 801802803804805806807808
809: Simple Pleasures and Hidden Treasures810811812813

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