On Oct. 24, Kats Hidden Treasures was defaced with spray paint. What happened next was a welcome surprise for owner Katrina Harrison.
On Oct. 24, Kat’s Hidden Treasures was defaced with spray paint. What happened next was a welcome surprise for owner Katrina Harrison.
Bob Pohlad

Hidden Treasures Graffitied

Students, faculty, community, and Ferrum Forward members give all-hands-on-deck response to the vandalism
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  • Students, staff, and community members pitch in to cover graffiti at Kat’s Hidden Treasures.

  • Django Burgess, freshman, meticulously applies painter’s tape to the eaves of Kat’s Hidden Treasures to prep it for painting.

  • Senior Jalen Buie, left, and Jaylon Hillman, sophomore, help paint over the vandalism at Kat’s Hidden Treasures.

  • Theatre Arts Professor Emily Blankenship-Tucker helps put a coat of fresh paint on the graffitied wall at Kat’s Hidden Treasures.

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Hidden Treasures owner Katrina Harrison has always wanted to spread the love in Ferrum.

But not quite like this.

On Oct. 24, Kat’s Hidden Treasures was defaced with graffiti. Among the symbols and images, the word “Love” was plastered across the side of the building in black spray paint.

“When I first saw it–it feels like a personal attack,” Harrison said, her voice cracking slightly. “I thought, ‘Oh it’s going to look so bad.'”

She took to Facebook and posted what happened, asking for some assistance in covering up the graffiti before the Folklife Festival Oct. 28–only four days away.

Within two days, community members, college faculty, and students rallied.

“Wayne Doughty sent me a message after my post on Facebook and said, ‘I’ll get the paint.’ And the next thing I know, Rachael and Emily (Blankenship-Tucker) organized the whole crew. Got the paint from him, got everything lined up, connected with everybody, and all I had to do was show up with brushes and ladders,” Harrison said.

Doughty is a local businessman/HVAC technician known as the Iceman. Emily Blankenship-Tucker is a Theatre Arts Professor, and Rachael Blankenship-Tucker is the Artistic Director of Bluegrass Brass.

Rachael Blankenship-Tucker sounded the call on Facebook, saying she’d be there early the next morning and would welcome the help of any who could lend a hand.

“I knew that a community coming together to help somebody is very important, and it needed to happen ASAP before the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival,” she said. “So I put it out there–asked if there were some people interested in helping. And there were. Then we got the theatre students over as well to help.”

Emily Blankenship-Tucker joked about the students’ tasks, relating the work to set design.

“They have lots of painting skills and experience, and I think for creative people, it’s always good to get to go and do something different,” she said.
“It’s a gorgeous day, and we’re out here in beautiful, sunshiny weather, and so it’s as good for us as it is to go and help somebody out.”

Together, they all painted over the graffiti, sharing buckets, brushes, and ladders.

“It amazes me that the action is happening so fast. When something happens to someone, you don’t always hear about it. But now that we have Ferrum Foward and the community is connected more, and the college as well, things happen quickly,” Bob Pohlad, community member and professor emeritus, said. “What we really want at Ferrum Forward is to keep that going–an action group that can step in and do this.”

The students also had positive things to say about the experience.

“I feel great,” said Jaylon Hillman, sophomore. “I’m able to help out the community and help somebody–makes me happy to be able to help somebody out today.”

Hannah Dix, sophomore, felt it was the appropriate thing to be doing.

“It feels nice,” she said. “The community helps us theatre students often, so why don’t we help the community, also?”

Django Burgess, freshman and member of Orchestra Appalachia, also praised the work being done.

“I enjoy working with the Theatre Department–anytime we get a chance to go out and help people in the community or just engage with our surroundings a little bit better,” he said. “It’s easy to get in a routine and a pattern, and I think Emily does a wonderful job of breaking us out of that whenever she can.”

After the work was complete, Doughty reflected on the gesture.

“I’ve known Kat for years now and she has done a lot recently to her building, and the heartbreak of having somebody not thinking about that hard work that she’s put into it,” he said. “We have many people coming into our town this week, also, and I know that meant a lot to Kat to get this behind her. Certainly, the least I could do. I wish I could do more.”

Harrison appeared as though she could barely contain her gratitude.

“I could cry. I mean it’s just so awesome. To have this many people come out,” she said. “When you’re used to working alone, having a crew is awesome. You have this bad of a feeling, but then you see all this, and you have a complete opposite feeling, and you know people do care. It’s important that we have community.”

She also praised the students for their part in the project.

“And having the college come out, too. It’s not just the people in the community. It’s also people who don’t even technically really live here but a few months a year. It restores faith in humanity. I tell ya. This week, I’ve gotten both ends of the spectrum. You know, the really, really hurt ‘How could someone do this?’ and then turn it around in two days time. This makes it feel good.”

For his part, Pohlad summed up the experience.

“This sets an example for the students at Ferrum–or any place,” he said. “We’re seeing community people working side by side, and they’re saying, ‘This is what I can go home and do in my community.'”




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