As a young girl, I was so lucky that most of the women around me were interested in art. My grandmother Shirley was a painter—I remember she was willing to teach me how to paint with oils and watercolors, and to show me the process. She got me started. My grandmother Magdalena shares my love of museums. She has taken me to museums all over the US and Europe, and I know I wouldn’t have seen half of what I have seen if she hadn’t taken me. She’s also a very good decorator. My mother never acts as interested in art museums or painting, but instead she’s always been interested in the hands-on forms of art. She taught me to cross stitch when I was (5?). I know I did a few things, but my most recent cross stitch has been on hold for about 9 years…a cross stitch of Mt. Ranier (I wonder where that is?). She sewed a few Halloween costumes and dresses/skirts, showed me numerous times how to use her sewing machine. Well, now I own it and I can’t figure that thing out! She let me go to knitting classes in 4th grade, where I was surely at least 30 years younger than most in attendance. Now, I can’t remember how to knit, and she’s knitting. I don’t think she’s ever weaved, but I know if one of us had a loom, we’d be fighting over who could use it. Lately, she’s sort of mentioned that she’d like to start a quilt, and I started making small quilts about a year ago, so I’m sure we’re headed on our next quest in material arts… quilting.
So, I want to share with her and you all some photographs and what little I know about some beautiful quilts from a place called Gee’s Bend. This is an excerpt from a small book titled The Quilts of Gee’s Bend, by Chronicle Books:
“Nestled inside a sweeping curve of the Alabama River southwest of Selma, Gee’s Bend is one of America’s most geographically isolated communities. It has been linked to the outside world by a single road, which remained unpaved until the late 1960s. The residents’ ancestors worked the cotton plantations there, first as slaves, then for several generations as tenant farmers, living in log cabins they built themselves. A majority of the townspeople shared a surname Pettway-inherited from former slave-owners in the Bend. During the 1960s, the Bend played important roles in the civil rights movement: Martin Luther King Jr. came to Gee’s Bend to preach on the eve of his march in Selma, and mules from Gee’s Bend pulled his casket after his death. “
These quilts are a reflection of an almost completely isolated community. Isn’t it interesting they developed their own style, but that many of the quilts remind us of Modern Art? I imagine the dresses and jeans that now make up the quilts, worn by those who lived in Gee’s Bend. I wonder what stories might be hidden in these quilts. These just make me wonder… I just love them!
(Notice the old blue jeans)