Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Gees Bend Quilt Book
Do you all know about Gee's Bend and their stunning quiltmaking history? Mom and I went to the first museum exhibition when it came to Milwaukee in 2003. I think it has toured again and there are several art books and even a play (that we also saw) about the story. The play was mostly the civil rights history of the little isolated island visited by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I like civil rights history themes, but I wanted the play to be an examination of the artistic process of quilting and it didn't occur to me that such a theme might not have a broad appeal...
Above is a corduroy quilt by Arcola Pettway, 1934-1994 done in a flag style for the Bicentennial. It seems appropriate to post a flag today since our patriotism was stirred after yesterday's historic events.
I find that as I sit here to share this with you, I don't want to write an essay about the story of Gees Bend since others have already done that. Mom gave me this wonderful book Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt as a Christmas gift and I am only just now diving into it and revisiting the glorious inspiration I got 6 years ago when I saw these quilts the first time.
These two quilts are by Annie Mae Young (b. 1928)
I make nice things, but I am a pattern follower. I like the way that patterns make decisions for me and I can predict how things are going to turn out. I don't like to "unsew" seams if I don't like how things look. I often wish I had the freedom of these talented artists to know all the rules about quilt block making and then just toss them aside to create works of such modern originality. Make no mistake. These artists have carefully composed these fabrics into pleasing compositions regardless of wonky lines and uneven edges.
This quilt is by Annie Bendolph (1900-1981) I have a book on this flying geese patch that I simply must use.
Here's Annie Bendolph's photo taken by Arthur Rothstein in 1937. Image from Wikipedia:
This one is by Mary Lee Bendolph (b.1935). The colors are aqua, black and dark brick red.
I remember this one by Annie E. Pettway (1904-1971) from the exhibition. I love the way the section of wonky striped triangle dances in the center.
Lousiana P. Bendolph (b. 1960) does quilts that are variations on the housetop pattern which is concentric squares.
This one is made of old work clothes by Annie Mae Young (b. 1928)
This book is full of photos and detailed stories of the quiltmakers and the discovery of these treasures. It's a perfect gift for me! Thanks, Mom!