“Peggy Heddleson Banners: A Celebration of Poetry in Felt,” a special proclaiming event honoring the memory of the late Margaret “Peggy” Thompson Heddleson, will be held from 2-4 p.m., Sunday, June 8, in the fellowship hall at Grace Lutheran Church at 131 W. Gettysburg Ave. in Oak Ridge.
Heddleson, who died in 2009, achieved acclaim as an artist in ceramics, painting, and basket weaving, but her banners, made of felt cloth with words, were her crowning artistic achievement.
Many of her banners were gifted to Grace Church, where she was a longtime member. On display in the sanctuary and the fellowship hall, they carry a message of faith and healing. Also on display for this event will be additional banners loaned by Peg’s daughter, Tina Armstrong. Many of the loaned banners deal with domestic violence and rape, topics with which Heddleson had some familiarity both from her own life and the stories many women shared with her as she traveled, giving “banner talks” advocating for battered women to church and civic groups.
Heddleson was a co-founder of Foothills Craft Guild in 1968. She was an active volunteer at the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge, where other banners she created are displayed. By the mid-1970s, she had grown sufficiently in skill and artistry to win first prize for her banner, “The Only Dance There Is,” in the 7th Religious Arts Show hosted by Grace Lutheran. Her works were also shown in exhibitions at the Oak Ridge Art Center.
Visitors to the event may gain greater insight and appreciation of the banners and their creation from hearing the story of Peg’s life told by Annie Long. Long’s compelling profile of Heddleson, “Let the Inner Voice Speak,” is included in the recently published book, “Tennessee Women of Vision and Courage.” The book, edited by Charlotte Crawford and Ruth Smiley, has been recognized with an Award of Distinction by the East Tennessee Historical Society. Smiley will be available for book signing.
A narrated church tour, led by Janie Hiserote, will further illuminate the artistry of the banners, according to Smiley.
The public is invited to view the banners and hear the story of their creator, free of charge.