Why Not Ours?
Each of the four flats at Lafayette Flats Boutique Vacation Rentals has a different color palette, but one color runs through them all – green. The color of the forest. The color of life. The color green signifies abundance to our primitive brains, soothing even our modern anxieties.
One way we bring green into the flats is through leaf patterns. We love the classic green and white designs but are often baffled that almost all commercial leaf patterns feature only tropical plants. The exotic patterns are beautiful, but not right for our proud West Virginian establishment.
Why aren’t the leaves of our lush forest featured in our homes, or in homes around the world? We found ourselves wondering: Is it just a case of taking for granted what’s right in front of us or is it something deeper?
Building Pride of Place
It’s easy to feel downtrodden and take for granted the beauty that surrounds you when you live in a state that exports its people faster than its fossil fuel. Working in tourism helps us stay positive. Being around folks who are genuinely excited to visit and explore our home is gratifying. But it’s seeing friends, family and fellow entrepreneurs sharing their pride in our shared heritage that matters most. Here are just a few examples.
- Shared Culture – David Sibray started the online magazine, WV Explorer in 1999 and we’ve enjoyed his interesting, often fascinating articles about West Virginia culture and history ever since. We particularly love the stories about native plants and odd/ relatively unknown natural features. We have WV Explorer to thank for several of our most enjoyable day trips.
- Shared Language – Elizabeth Elswick, the designer behind The Hippie’s Daughter, can be a little inappropriate but always humorous with her nostalgic Appalachian expressions that remind us of our people. We grew up with sayings like, “come hell or high water,” “over yonder,” and “well shit fire.” Seeing our dialect displayed on t-shirts and stickers is funny. Funny in a way that lifts the spirit of a community.
- Shared Cuisine – Mike Costello and Amy Dawson of Lost Creek Farms — who were recently nominated for James Beard’s Best Chef of the Southeast award — share the deliciousness of heritage-inspired mountain cuisine far and wide. From chow chow to chicken and dumplings, they celebrate the recipes and techniques of our ancestors. It feeds our bodies but more importantly, it feeds our souls.
- Shared Folklore – Liz Pavlovic is a freelance designer and illustrator whose work is inspired by her Appalachian experiences. We particularly love how Liz has conjured our shared scary stories of native cryptids like Mothman, Bat Boy and the Flatwoods Monster. It is inspiring the way she’s brought them to life through partnerships with West Virginia mainstays like Blenko Glass.
The 2022 WV Art Fund Purchase
As you might know, each year we set aside a portion of the profits from our boutique vacation rentals to buy original art from a West Virginia artist to grow the permanent collection at Lafayette Flats. It’s our way of both supporting local artists and providing our guests with the opportunity to encounter West Virginia’s true contemporary culture.
This leaf pattern conundrum got us thinking about a new approach to this annual purchase. Maybe we could solve our design problem and build a little pride of place at the same time. Instead of buying one piece of art to adorn only the walls of Lafayette Flats, how about commissioning a design that can be reproduced and used by people who share our love of this Appalachian Forest? And instead of a one-time purchase from the artist, how about an artwork that will allow the artist to continue to profit from her work well into the future?
As a result, for this year’s West Virginia art fund purchase, we hired Marisa Jackson to illustrate several native leaves and assemble them into a pattern that can be used on a wide variety of home decor. We chose the leaves of trees we most often see in our neighborhoods and in our forests: sycamore, tulip poplar, white oak, sugar maple, black walnut and birch.
Leaving It to You
To make Marisa’s design accessible to us and the public in many different forms of home decor, she uploaded her pattern to a Spoonflower account. Spoonflower is a global marketplace connecting makers and consumers with artists worldwide.
We ordered Marisa’s pattern, which is named West Virginia Native Green Leaves, in wallpaper form for Corten’s bathroom, and in pillow form for the other three flats. We’ve also ordered a tablecloth for our home.
Through Spoonflower, Marisa can sell these items in many forms and she receives a commission on every item sold, creating a passive revenue source for this busy West Virginia artist. To shop our West Virginia Native Green Leaves pattern visit Spoonflower.
About the Artist: Marisa Jackson
Marisa Jackson, of St. Albans, WV, is the owner of MarisaMade. She’s a stationer, watercolor artist, illustrator, calligrapher and the mother of three boys – one who has a rare condition called FOXG1 Syndrome.
The mission behind MarisaMade is to use art to spread awareness for FOXG1 Syndrome while creating beautiful products that connect us to memories, places and emotions. Purchases from Marisa’s shop contribute to a yearly donation made to the FOXG1 Research Foundation to find a cure for FOXG1 Syndrome. To learn more about FOXG1 Syndrome, visit foxg1research.org and foxg1.org.
Discover WV Artists! Explore our past West Virginia Art Fund purchases.
2021 – Robby Moore
2020 – Nevada Tribble
2019 – Rosalie Haizlett
2018 – Eddie “Spaghetti” Maier
2017 – Meredith Gregg
2016 – Paula Clendenin
2015 – Stephanie Danz