A new quilted tapestry created by local artist Janie Prather now greets members and visitors at the Fort Mill YMCA branch at Baxter Village.
Prather spent more than two weeks planning and piecing the artwork together, weaving in colors that represent the Y's five core values: faith, caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. The banner, nearly four feet by four feet, hangs from the stairway landing behind the facility's front desk."In this piece it's like a weaving," Prather said. "At every spot where it's woven there's another connection of all these different pieces. It goes back to the idea that we're all more alike than different.""When I'm at the Y, I always bump into someone I've known," she said."I went to look at it and I loved it," Y Director Susan Hollis said. "When i first saw it the thing that really grabbed me was the colors."I think about the Y and the character traits, in everything we do we try to make sure the core values come through," she continued. "I saw that in the tapestry."Prather began quilting about nine years ago at a quilting class sponsored by the York County Quilters Guild at Fewell Park in Rock Hill."Since then, I've been doing my process of growth in fiber art," Prather said. "I'm very into color; color is what draws me," she said. "I start working with that and a thought in mind as far as theme."Usually one or more pencil sketches come first. Then the cutting begins, lots of cutting. Different quilters approach projects differently, she said.Many of the best quilters are also very good at math because the act of making a quilt involves so much measuring and precise patterns. It can be very challenging technically."I usually stray from those [sketches]," Prather said. "My heat beats faster when I see colors."Prather's piece is the fifth work of art to be donated to the Y, Hollis said. The other four were all purchased from the S.C. Waterfowl Association and donated with the help of Chris Henley, a member of the Tega Cay Lions Club. He also helped secure the $400 to cover Prather's costs for making the tapestry from eight local sponsors.Prather had initially been approached to create a banner for the dedication of the Tega Cay Community Center earlier this year, but that commission fell through.When Henley found out about that, he got in touch with Prather and members of the Y's board of trustees, which resulted in the piece now hanging in the Y."I just hate to see art work not being dedicated and not being done," he said."I had already started working on this piece when Chris called about the Y," Prather said. "Their theme is mind, body, spirit and the community, so this piece would be perfect for them."Prather said this piece was easier than a lot of the other ones she's made over the years because she was already very familiar with the Y. She worked there and at the Gold Hill Road branch for about four years. She titled the piece "Connecting, Spirits Soar.""I drew inspiration from my own experience with the Y and knowing how much they like to build the community aspect," she said.More of her work will be on display during Fort Mill's Art on Main festival in October. She said she wants to bring more yarn and other textiles, even handmade ceramic beads, into her work.Prather recently joined the Catawba Art Guild, and has displayed her work at the Anne Springs Close Greenway Arts and Crafts Show. She also travels outside of the region to attend juried art shows, and is throwing herself full-time into her art."I really do hope the people in Fort Mill support (Art on Main). This can be a great thing for the community," Prather said.