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Somerset quilter’s work on exhibit at CACCC

Somerset quilter’s work on exhibit at CACCC


Our Town Correspondent


A new exhibit is on display at Community Arts Center of Cambria County, located on Menoher Boulevard in Johnstown’s Westmont neighborhood.

“Stories Told Through Stitch” features the work of the late Hilda C. Fink, a fiber artist. 

This exhibit opens Sept. 8 with a free reception from 1 to 3 p.m. inside CACCC’s Goldhaber-Fend Fine Arts Center gallery. During the reception, Fink’s daughter, Sally Fink, is to present a gallery talk followed by a Q & A session.

“Sally is going to explain her mom’s background as a fiber artist,” said Angela Godin, CACCC executive director. “There’s so much diversity in Hilda’s work, and what’s so exciting is that she passed her talent on because now Sally is nationally recognized for her costumes.” 

Hilda Fink was born in 1922 in Somerset County. She was graduated from Meyersdale Area High School in 1940. She worked as a waitress, secretary and teacher, and during World War II, as a cryptologist for the Army Signal Corps. She married Ray S. Fink in 1943, and they were married for 63 years until his passing in 2006. 

Along with Sally Fink, Hilda had a son named Drake Fink, who currently lives with his family in Colorado. 

In 1991, Hilda and her husband moved to Johnstown, where she lived until her passing in July 2009. 

According to an entry in one of her journals, Hilda began her sewing career in 1947. Her intention was to make some outfits for her son. She set up a sewing room inside her Somerset apartment, and Ray encouraged her to purchase the best tools she could afford in order to make her work both easy and enjoyable. Hilda sewed exclusively on Viking sewing machines. 

Hilda continued to improve her skills throughout the years by both taking classes and teaching classes. She made a wide variety of clothes, including, but not limited to: dresses, skirts, pants, blouses, jackets, suits, coats, lingerie and men’s suits.

She segued into quilting after amassing a collection of fabric scraps. Hilda created her first quilt in the early 1990s.

According to her daughter, Hilda created approximately 125 quilts over her 19-year quilting career. These quilts ranged from queen-sized bed quilts to small wall hangings. She rarely sold them, Sally noted, preferring instead to give them away to her sisters, children, grandchildren and other family members and friends.

“Hilda was meticulous about her work and finished everything she started,” Sally Fink said. “When she passed away, she did not leave piles and piles of unfinished projects—there were only two: an embroidery piece she had been working on for years and a small wall hanging. Her most prolific quilting period was the late 1990s into the early 2000s.” 

Godin said she’s thrilled to present this exhibit, which is sure to inspire other local quilters.

“The legacy that Hilda C. Fink has left within the talent of her daughter, Sally, is a true gem,” Godin said. “To be able to host a vibrant, colorful collection of fiber works such as Hilda’s is a great honor. She took something that was a talented hobby she used for her family and transformed it into a passion that became well-recognized throughout the community.” 

“Stories told through Stitch” will remain on display through Sept. 27. CACCC’s Goldhaber-Fend Fine Arts Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. The exhibit is free to view, but donations are welcomed and encouraged. 

“This is such a visually attractive exhibit,” Godin said. “I’ve known Sally ever since I’ve been (working) here, and to honor her mother is really exciting for us. I think her mother would be so pleased with how this exhibit turned out.”

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