Poster Image

Illustration of Elizabeth Cotten at Libba Cotten Park, Syracuse


Item#: 2024SYR06

Purchase Details

11x17-inches, printed on heavy weight (100-pound) Hammermill cover paper. We package each print with a piece of chipboard in a clear plastic sleeve.

You also receive…

An information page with photos of the artist and poet, and hand-written comments from each.

Medium- and large-format posters are available by custom order. Contact us for details.

Hop The Cotten-picking

poster information


Hop the Cotten-picking

Freight train to speed to

your musical heart's

toe-tapping delight!

When I was eight, I started writing poetry which sparked my ongoing love of playing with words to express feelings and create magic. When I was nine, I fell in love with folk music, that passion also continues to this day! To combine my two loves for the Poster Project has been sheer delight for me. I first heard Libba Cotten’s toe-tapping “Freight Train” when I was 12, the same age Libba was when she wrote it! Because she was left-handed, she kept borrowing her brother’s guitar on the sly. Libba taught herself to play guitar upside down and backwards, creating her “Cotten-picking” style with just two fingers!

For years “Freight Train” was attributed to other writers, until a good deed done by Libba connected her with Pete Seeger’s family, by chance, fate, or karma. After that the world got to hear Libba playing her own songs out front!

When I first read my list of given poems, Diane’s seemed to jump out at me. It conjured more imagery in my mind than the others did. After doing a bit of investigation into Elizabeth’s life and listening to her song “Freight Train,” I felt compelled to select her as my subject. While researching I discovered the existence of Libba Cotten Grove, a local park near downtown Syracuse dedicated to her memory. Perched on a slight hill is a bronze statue of the folk artist playing her guitar, created by local sculptor Sharon BuMann. I was so taken by her character and energy that I decided to use this statue as the heart of my inspiration.

As an artistic Jack-of-all-trades, choosing how to illustrate this piece was difficult. In the end I elected to use Adobe Illustrator for this project, mostly because of familiarity and for the sake of efficiency in making alterations. I tend to work using a ridiculous number of layers, building each interaction with the use of textures, transparency, and gradients. And I’m an old-school, self-taught user, so no tablet or stylus, only a mouse and many memorized keyboard shortcuts! This poster was fun and I look forward to participating more in the coming years.