Wednesday, February 27, 2008

gees bend quilts: handicraft from recycled & scrap fabrics

A few years ago I was in New York and had the wonderful opportunity of seeing the Quilts of Gees Bend in person at the Whitney Museum. I loved them when I saw them then-and I thought of them again today. Still lovely and original. Enjoy.

Below is an excerpt from Wikipedia about the history of Gees Bend and the Quilts:
Gee's Bend is a block of land enclosed on three sides by a massive turn in the Alabama River. An African American community, Gee's Bend became an important part of the mid-1960s Freedom Quilting Bee, an offshoot of the Civil Rights movement designed to boost family income and foster community development by selling handcrafts to outsiders.

Calvin Trillin devoted a 1969 The New Yorker piece to the opening of the community's new sewing center, paid for with quilting bee revenues. In 1983, an exhibit in Birmingham sponsored by the Alabama Humanities Foundation included several of Rothstein's photographs of Gee's Bend, and an oral history project at the Birmingham Public Library sent new researchers and a photographer to document a new generation of residents.

And then in 2002, an exhibition of their art work opened at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and everything changed. The show went to the Whitney Museum in New York City and their art was hailed as "some of the most miraculous work of art America has produced." The show subsequently traveled to numerous other museums and the women have found gallery representation for their art. In June of 2006, a second exhibition of quilts opened at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston called "Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt." It will travel to seven additional museums, the final stop of the nationwide tour being at the de Young Museum in San Francisco at the end of 2006. Many of the quilt makers have become well known and have traveled extensively to talk about their community and their art. Many now have real incomes for the first time and their work, and its success, has helped to reunite and revive a dying community. In 2006, the US Postal Service released a sheet of commemorative stamps bearing images of Gee's Bend Quilts.

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3 Comments:

Blogger cynthia korzekwa said...

I have Gees Bend books and can look at them for hours...but to see them live must be a real treat!

9:55 PM  
Blogger hautenature* said...

Yeah, it was wonderful in person. I was amazed at the content of the quilts--the artists used old furniture blankets, old clothing--basically everything. So creative and quite resourceful!

6:01 PM  
Blogger Alan Roberta said...

Good Work. I am manufacturer of handicraft and looking for handicraft partners globally.

3:55 AM  

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