Photograph of 'I am God' 1976, Hunter M. Yoder, 60"x60" fluorescent paint on canva. Photo taken 1991, at 178 Union Street, #4L Brooklyn, NY where the author worked and resided for eleven years.
Hex Signs as Signifiers of Geographical Location
Hunter Yoder, 1976
from his book, HEIDEN HEXOLOGY, ESSAYS AND INTERVIEWS
The function of the brightly decorative Hex Signs seen on local barns may serve a purpose other then 'chust fer nice' They seem to not only be in this particular geographical locale (Berks County) but may serve as pointers to particular places of importance in the area. In driving from the Kutztown area in a roughly northeast direction towards the Blue Mountains, the Hex Signs encountered along the way change notably as one becomes closer to the Mountains.
The Hex Signs in northern Berks County are mostly based on the eight pointed star which characteristically has a red circle for a center. Usually they have two concentric circles with a regressive star pattern, star within a star and so forth. The eight pointed star is based on multiplying the cardinal points by two. The border surrounding the 'star' varies from radiating lines resembling snakes to tight geometric triangular halos. The border becomes the place of the most extensive variation from barn to barn. And as the movement from the great valley nothward to the Blue Mountains proceeds, the borders become notably more complex and agitated. Generally, the borders of Hex Signs near the Mountains are based on a triangular motif which consists of painted triangular shapes alternating with hatched triangles which may indicate a clockwise or counterclockwise spin.
The centers also take on a different more developed aspect. The central red dot which is the small circle usually painted red, dead center in the basic Hex Sign now may be come a Hex Sign within a Hex Sign, a reflection of itself within itself.
This aspect of Hexology is an important one in determining what the purpose these things may have and their relation to the ambient environment. For example, there is a barn located between Kutztown, PA and the tourist attraction, Crystal Cave which has sixteen pointed stars and a complex triangular border complete with hatchings on its Hex Signs. It is peculiar in the immediate area where most of the Hexes painted on the barns are only the simpler eight pointed star variety with painted radiating snake-like lines radiating outward. This would be in Richmond Township, Berks County. This particular barn which stands out, has all the elements in its Hex Signs as those which are at least ten miles north, near Kempton, Pa. This barn is situated on the corner of the road near the top of a hill. Driving in one direction, one approaches the barn from the top of the hill going down, the 'Signs' standout, confronting the viewer. One becomes dazzled by their presence and then after making the oncoming bend in the road they become lost from sight. Immediately afterward, the viewer is treated to a beautiful panoramic view of the Blue Mountains, in particular the highest point in Berks County, the Pinnacle, which juts out very distinctly from the Appalachian Mountain Ridge. Coming up the road from the opposite direction, one sees nothing unless he cranes his neck.
The author believes that what the Hex Signs are doing in this particular example is to relay the attention attracting ability of high points and reflect that energy in a visual language and in a sense eliminate the ten mile distance between the barn and the mountains. The Hexes become points of self projection from afar. Familiarity with the landscape may lead to knowledge of that distant indicated point (the Pinnacle) when one is there looking back in the direction of that faraway painted barn. The experience for the author cuts through time and space allowing him to be simultaneously two places at the same moment. The thinking here is that this was the intention of the style and placement of the Hexes.