Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics - Episode 5 - Gee's Bend

Episode 5: Gee’s Bend: “The Most Famous Quilts in America?”



  • In the Middle of Nowhere
  • The Discovery
  • From the Clothesline to the Museum Wall
  • The Debate
  • After the Exhibitions

In 2002 the art world was rocked to its foundations by a group of unusual, abstract quilts made by African American women from an obscure hamlet in southern Alabama. People lined up around the block to see them, and the critic from The New York Times gushed as, for the first time, the quilt became the subject of a museum blockbuster.  Join us as we trace the journey of the quilts of Gees Bend from the clotheslines of the South to the exhibition walls of the country’s greatest museums.  We’ll explore the aesthetic and social appeal of these quilts—and quilters—as well as the controversies they engendered, and analyze their unique place in quilt history.

Featuring appearances by Shelly Zegart, Creola B. Pettway, Arlonzia Pettway, Georgiana Pettway, James Grubola, William R. Ferris, Nettie Young, Kay Polson Grubola, Matt Arnett, Niloo Paydar, Bernie Herman, Maxwell L. Anderson, Douglas Dawson, Karen Musgrave, Essie Bendolph Pettway and Mary Lee Bendolph.


Episode Resources:

Image Resource Guide | Image GalleryBiographies


Watch Episode Preview:


Watch Episode Introduction:

In this video: Douglas Dawson, Owner, Douglas Dawson Gallery (Chicago, IL)


Image (page top): Gee’s Bend Ferry sign. Courtesy Joe Cunningham and Julie Silber.


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