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Herman Hayes


Folk artist Herman Lee Hayes (September 23, 1923-March 30, 2012) was born at Elkview and attended Elkview High School. He enlisted in the Marines a year after Pearl Harbor while still a student in high school. After the war, he worked as a salesman before going to college to study for the ministry, first at West Virginia Wesleyan and then at Morris Harvey College (now University of Charleston). He was ordained in the Methodist church in 1963 and served churches throughout the state. After retirement, he and his wife, Ladena, moved to Hurricane in Putnam County.

As a boy, Hayes was inspired to carve after seeing the work of a man who had carved a ball inside a cage out of one piece of wood. With the eye of artist, Hayes became a master carver. His trademark pieces featured many tiny figures assembled in a sports arena or other venue. Other works featured figures standing on the shoulders of other figures, carved from one piece of wood. Hayes used a variety of tools, including chisels, straight razors, and surgical instruments, and he worked with many kinds of wood, though he preferred basswood.

His work was exhibited in Washington and New York City and was sought after by collectors from around the country. Hayes twice won the top award in the biennial West Virginia Juried Exhibition. His pieces are part of the permanent collection of the West Virginia State Museum.