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Gees Bend

Since I am thinking quilts, I immediately remembered my love for the quilts by the women of Gees Bend.   If you don’t already know about the quilts from Gees Bend, then I am excited to show them to you!

In relative isolation, the women of Gees Bend, a small remote black community in Alabama, produced works of art in the form of quilts rivaling pieces created by the masters of the modern art movement in the 20th century. In 2002, the Museum of Fine Arts Houtson mounted an exhibition drawing from the collection of the Tinwood Alliance of 60 quilts, created by 42 women spanning four generations.

Annie E. Pettway, 1904-1971, "Flying Geese" variation, ca 1935

Annie Ma Young, Born 1928, work-clothes quilt with center medallion of corduroy strips, 1976

Loretta Pettway, born 1942, Medallion, ca 1960

Few other places can boast the extent of Gee’s Bend’s artistic achievement, the result of both geographical isolation and an unusual degree of cultural continuity.  In few places elsewhere have works been found by three and sometimes four generations of women in the same family, or works that bear witness to visual conversations among community quilting groups and lineages. via – The Quilts of Gee’s Bend

Linda Pettway, born 1929, "Logcabin" single-black variation tied with yard, ca. 1975

Florine Smith, born 1948, four-block strips, ca 1975

Mary Elizabeth Kennedy, 1911-1991, "Housetop"- "Logcabin" variation, ca 1935

“The compositions of these quilts contrast dramatically with the ordered regularity associated with many styles of Euro-American quilt-making. There’s a brilliant, improvisational range of approaches to composition that is more often associated with the inventiveness and power of the leading 20th-century abstract painters than it is with textile-making,” says Alvia Wardlaw, curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston – via NPR

Jessie T. Pettway, born 1929, bars and string-pieced columns, ca. 1950

Irene Williams born 1920, “Housetop”

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