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Appalachian Mural Trail Adds “Angels on the Trail”

The Appalachian Mural Trail recently added the “Angel Wings” mural in West Jefferson to their expanding trail of noteworthy art murals. Participatory murals are extremely popular throughout the world and the mural trail group was looking to find one.

“When a ‘selfie’ photo was uploaded to our site of a young lady placed in front of angel wings, we knew it needed to be a part of the mural trail,” says Doreyl Ammons Cain, Director of the mural trail. “We found the artist, Raney Rogers, and asked her to tell the story of the mural.”

“I have always loved angels, says Raney Rogers. “The stories that surround them, the meaning they have, that they “watch over us” and can intervene in our lives in as many ways as one can imagine and more. Angels can save our lives and bring us comfort at our time of deepest despair.”

Raney continues… “When a friend sent a photo of the angel wings an artist painted on a wall in Florida, where the nightclub disaster occurred, I was very touched by how art could bring comfort in the image of an angel. It certainly did to those affected by the incident and it did to me when I saw it. So I decided to start looking for a wall in West Jefferson. The point being that everyone could become an “angel” for a moment, or show their angelic side. The best wall of all appeared right beside the Hotel Tavern. The wall was actually a picket fence so I painted the mural on outdoor cement board and erected the real “wall” myself, with help.

I began to tell friends about what I was doing and they were excited and wanted to have a memorial block – some for loved ones and some for themselves so I began to build a block wall. Word spread and those who had ties to Ashe County called and requested a block and sometimes two. Then I started hearing the stories people were telling about their loved ones – how much they meant to them and even sometimes how they died. It was very special to them to have a place that they could visit which could make them feel closer to that person. Others wanted to put their own names on the blocks as a sort of…”I was here” kind of thing for the future.

The very best part is watching people take each other’s pictures in front of the wings. Standing there changes you for a moment. You can see it in the faces. Some will strike poses and they all look so grand with the wings spread out behind them. They lend a grace and beauty to the individual. There was one young man in particular who stood in front of the wings with his head down as if to express the difficulty in being mortal…or maybe the failure. It is one of the more moving photos. “

Interested in sprouting some wings? Find directions to the “Angel Wings” mural at You’ll also find over 85 other storytelling murals that you just have to visit!

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