Blocks, Strips, Strings and Half Squares - Mary Lee Bendolph (2005)

“Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics” KET2 – Episode 5, “Gee’s Bend: The Most Famous Quilts in America?”

Episode 5, “Gee’s Bend: The Most Famous Quilts in America?,” premiers on KET2 next Monday, October 3, at 7PM EST.

Housetop Variation - Martha Pettway (1930s)In 2002, I had a life changing experience when I was able to visit the women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama.  I visited them in their homes, shared meals with them, and was overwhelmed by the power of their work, the stories of their lives, their optimism and their boundless creativity through extreme poverty.   This isolated location, originally settled by slaves, has passed its quilting traditions down from mother to daughter, for generations.

From the clotheslines of the South to the exhibition walls of the country’s greatest museums, the journey of the Gee’s Bend quilts is worth exploring. These quilts, made from poor materials and clothing shreds, produce an aesthetic richness not to be denied (by most people).  Unlike traditional quilts with small straight stitches and clean patterns, Gee’s Bend quilts were criticized for being roughly crafted.  But don’t let the difference in construction fool you! Many people think these women created highly visual works of art.  Some people disagree and do not think they should be in any museum.  What do you think?  Please join us for a discussion on Facebook!

– Shelly Zegart

 

→ Find out more about Episode 5, “Gee’s Bend: The Most Famous Quilts in America?”

→ Watch Episode 5 Preview

→ Image Resource Guide for Episode 5

 

Image Credits:

Top: Blocks, Strips, Strings and Half Squares.   Mary Lee Bendolph (2005).  Cotton. 84″ x 81″. From Gee’s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt by Paul Arnett (Tinwood Books, 2006).  Courtesy of Matt Arnett.  Photo by Pitkin Studio.

Left: Housetop Variation. Martha Pettway (1930s). Cotton. 80″ x 73″. From Gee’s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt by Paul Arnett (Tinwood Books, 2006).  Courtesy of Matt Arnett.  Photo by Pitkin Studio.

Leave a reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.