The Alleghany Arts Council has commissioned muralist Doreyl Ammons Cain to design and paint “Resilient,” a new outdoor mural based on the agricultural heritage of Alleghany County. The 32 foot mural will be located in Downtown Sparta, North Carolina.
In assembling the story of Alleghany County’s rich agricultural history, Cain consulted at length with Agricultural Extension Agents for Alleghany County, as well as with Cindy Atwood of the Alleghany Historical-Genealogical Society, Inc., and the American Folklife Center of the Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Collection. The result was a mural design that visualizes a small, brilliant window into a beautiful countryside and its generations of inspired farmers.
Cain began her research by speaking with Amy Lucus, Alleghany County Extension Director, then sifting through photos supplied by Aaron Ray Tompkins, Agriculture Extension Agent for Alleghany County, NC Cooperative Extension, NC State University.
The theme that became evident was all about resilience. As Amy Lucus so clearly states, “I think for me it’s that there is such a resiliency to agriculture in Alleghany. As you know, agriculture is a primary economic driver here and always has been. For me, it’s personal and professional. I grew up on a dairy farm here in Alleghany. During that time (in the 80’s) everyone had a dairy farm and did well with it. We had over 100 dairy farms scattered throughout the area at that time. We also had beef cattle, burley tobacco, corn and hay. As laws, governance and stipulations changed we saw our farmers change with it.”
The farming culture in Alleghany County ties many different lives, families and lifestyles together. The mural concept is focused on the local stories that hold rich evidence of generations of farming families located on lush landscapes just off of the Blue Ridge Parkway, says Cain.
The mural is scheduled to be completed by the end of August in 2021. Once installed, Sparta’s mural will be included on the Appalachian Mural Trail, where it will be promoted to bring visitors into downtown Sparta to view the mural.