Housetop and Bricklayer blocks with bars; c. 1955; made by Lucy T. Pettway;
90" x 78"; cotton, corduroy, cotton knit, flannel, and even weave;
photo by Pitkin Studio, courtesy of Matt Arnett

Sisters in Cloth: The Modern Quilters and the Quilters of Gee’s Bend

Over the past few years, the Modern Quilt movement has taken the quilting world by storm, and many Modern Quilters reference the quilts of Gee’s Bend as a seminal influence on their work. To quote the Modern Quilt Guild blog: Some quilt designs even transcend time and reflect our current “modern” aesthetic. Immediately the quilts from the amazing ladies at Gee’s Bend come to mind…modern quilting is just about quilting in a way that reflects you, the modern quilter. It is a style of quilting that reflects your life, your aesthetic, and sometimes your general approach to the world. Mary Lee Bendolph, one of the famed Gee’s Bend quilters says it best, “I never try to quilt altogether like anybody. . . It’s better if you do what you are supposed to do than to try and copy somebody else.”

Gee's Bend - Photo courtesy of Joe Cunningham and Julie Silber

Photo courtesy of Joe Cunningham and Julie Silber

Did you know that Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics devotes an entire 26-minute episode to the quilts and quilters of Gee’s Bend?

Episode 5: Gee’s Bend: “The Most Famous Quilts in America?” traces the journey of the quilts of Gee’s Bend from the clotheslines of the South to the exhibition walls of the country’s greatest museums, explores the aesthetic and social appeal of these quilts—and quilters—as well as the controversies they’ve engendered, and analyzes their unique place in quilt history. Among those appearing in this episode are some of the Gee’s Bend quilters themselves, including Creola B. Pettway, Arlonzia Pettway, Georgiana Pettway, Essie Bendolph Pettway, and Mary Lee Bendolph. There are also–of course–dozens of quilts (and other related images) to view and enjoy, and you can further enhance your viewing experience by downloading the FREE Image Resource Guide for this episode, which provides specifics for each image shown (e.g., name of quilt, quiltmaker, size of quilt, materials used, etc.). Here’s a taste of what you’ll find in Why Quilts Matter, Episode 5.

Housetop (nine-block variation); c. 1975; made by Mary L. Bennett; c. 1975; 87" x 77"; cotton, denim, cotton/polyester blend, and cotton knit; photo<br />courtesy of Matt Arnett

Housetop (nine-block variation); c. 1975; made by Mary L. Bennett; c. 1975; 87″ x 77″; cotton, denim, cotton/polyester blend, and cotton knit; photo courtesy of Matt Arnett

Medallion; 2005; made by Loretta P. Bennett; 88" x 63"; cotton and twill; photo by Pitkin Studio, courtesy of Matt Arnett<br />Photo by

Medallion; 2005; made by Loretta P. Bennett; 88″ x 63″; cotton and twill; photo by Pitkin Studio, courtesy of Matt Arnett

Housetop and Bricklayer blocks with bars; c. 1955; made by Lucy T. Pettway; 90" x 78"; cotton, corduroy, cotton knit, flannel, and even weave;<br />photo by Pitkin Studio, courtesy of Matt Arnett

Housetop and Bricklayer blocks with bars; c. 1955; made by Lucy T. Pettway; 90″ x 78″; cotton, corduroy, cotton knit, flannel, and even weave; photo by Pitkin Studio, courtesy of Matt Arnett

You can purchase your own personal copy of the complete documentary, Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics, by clicking here. The two-DVD set includes all nine episodes, as well as features not available anywhere else, for a total of 250 minutes of informative and entertaining viewing. There’s never been a better time: from now through December 31, we’re offering a special holiday gift of FREE SHIPPING (US and Canada). Treat yourself, treat a friend, treat your guild or public library…and help spread the word about “why quilts matter.”

Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics - 2012 Holiday Offer

 

 

 

 

 

 

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