Heart of Louisiana: Quilt Trail

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – A grassroots art project takes quilts out of the bedroom and turns them into painted displays on homes and businesses. The Louisiana Quilt Trail began in the town of Ponchatoula.

As you drive through the community of Tangipahoa, keep an eye out for these square, colorful works of art. You can find them on homes and businesses like this one in a flower shop.

“She’s picked out the ones that sell best, like the rosebuds, and she always puts the butterflies in them,” Kim Zabbia said.

Kim Zabbia is an art teacher, wife of the mayor of Ponchatoula, and a big supporter of the area’s quilt trail.

“It’s the fastest growing grassroots arts movement in the country,” Zabbia said.

Zabbia tells me that there is a quilt trail in every state in the country, the Louisiana trail started a decade ago.

“It’s like going to any state to go to the highest peak in that state, it’s a wonderful tourist attraction,” Zabbia said.

So when people talk about a quilt trail, they’re not actually driving around and seeing a quilt hanging in someone’s yard, it’s a painted representation of a quilt.

“What’s worth remembering is that the Quilt Trail has taken this intimate art of quilting out of the bedrooms and living rooms and into the public domain,” Zabbia said.

A quilt block advertises the local Strawberry Festival and its royalty to the Tourist Commission. At City Hall, you’ll see the headlights of a train, more strawberries, and a flag on this downtown building. The ancient architecture is showcased in the quilt block. You’ll find personal stories in these paintings, like this one outside Jim Hulsey’s house.

“I have cows. So you see the cattle heads in the corners, okay. My wife has cats, here and there you see the cat. Why are you doing this? Why do I do this? Yes, it’s just interesting. It kind of traps us all in one place, said Jim Husley.

Businesses are not allowed to use their logo. This foot clinic has feet in the shape of a fragrant flower. All tourist centers in the region distribute maps of the Quilt Trail.

“: But it has the whole region of the five parishes. But look, that’s all of Ponchatoula, and it’s 54 blocks there. Look, Hammond has 20. Here’s Amite and Kentwood,” Zabbia said.

There are a few actual quilters who participate, such as Yvonne Felder, who says she started sewing as a child but didn’t start quilting until after she got married in the 1950s.

“When you really enjoy it, it’s just fun, and I’ve always enjoyed sewing, and the quilts just kind of came naturally,” said Yvonne Felder.

Her home is filled with real quilts, but she also has a painted block on the outside with colored diamond shapes representing each of her children. It’s a personal, colorful and fascinating expression where people tell you who they are and invite you to take a look.

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