In celebration of the Black Lives Matter movement that has rightly garnered much attention as of late and means a great deal to my family, I thought it would be nice to share the work of some of my favorite black artists – the quilt makers of Gee’s Bend, Alabama. The colorful quilts are created by a circle of women in a rural African-American community on the Alabama River. They hand-stitch the blankets using whatever textile scraps are on hand (cornmeal sacks, corduroy swatches, blue jeans…) and the results are spectacular. Though the women of Gee’s Bend and their ancestors have been quilt making for hundreds of years, it wasn’t until the 1960’s that their creations garnered national attention. The colorful, geometric masterpieces were eventually exhibited at art museums around the country, including an exhibition at the New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art in 2002. The New York Times review of the Whitney show hailed the quilts as, “some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced” and compared them to the paintings of Henri Matisse and Paul Klee. Below, explore some of my favorite Gee’s Bend quilts, and if you’re interested, check out a fantastic video about the quilt makers here.
Blocks And Strips, Amelia Bennet, 1965
Housetop Twelve Block Variation, Amelia Bennet, date unknown
Rows Of Blocks With Various Patterns (Predominately “Maple Leaf”), Eddie Lee Pettway Green, 1997
Basket Weave, Polly Bennett, 1943
Log Cabin Nine Block Variation, Jessie T. Pettway, 1953
Housetop Fractured-Medallion Variation, Delia Bennett, 1955
Cross In Block Sixteen-Block Variation, Hannah Wilcox, 1950
Log Cabin Variation, Nancy Pettway, date unknown
Center Medallion Variation, Tied With Yarn, Ruby Gamble, 1978
Log Cabin Variation, Jessie T. Pettway, 1960
Log Cabin Sixteen-Block Courthouse Steps, Jessie T. Pettway, 1953
(images courtesy of Souls Grown Deep)
As enamored with the Gee’s Bend quilts as I am…?
Explore more of the colorful creations here.