Jun 9, 2007

Quilts of Gee's Bend

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" All Cash, No Flash" read the headlines out of MONTGOMERY, Ala., Associated Press article on Jun. 6, 2007 reporting that an elderly quilter whose hand-made quilts have been so acclaimed by the art world along with other quilters out of Gee's Bend, Alabama has now accused William Arnett, an Atlanta art historian, of falsely representing the proceeds from enterprises associated with the quilts.

In recent years, the quilts have been displayed in prestigious museums and even been chosen for the U.S. Postal Service's American Treasures stamp series of colorful postage stamps. The lawsuit, filed last week in federal court, seeks a share of the profits from the quilts for Annie Mae Young.

Earlier this year, several of the quilters told The Associated Press in an interview (at the center where they make the quilts) that they were disappointed that the publicity for the quilts had actually generated money that might help the small and impoverished community.

"We need something else here. We need stores, we need our roads fixed, we need day care, we need a washeteria," quilter Nancy Brown said at the time.

Apparently, some of the money has gone into a foundation to be used for community improvements and that it will be up to the members of the Gees Bend collective to decide how that money will be spent. It is believed there is between $75,000 and $100,000 in the foundation's treasury.

The lawsuit calls the actions of the defendants "an extensive fraud" and complains that little money from the quilts has come back to Gee's Bend.

In any case...it sure makes me take a second look at these amazing quilts and perhaps an even deeper appreciated for a style of quilting that is now making a comeback. I'll never look at vintage quilters or their quilters the same way again!

For more information:

Commodification, Intellectual Property and the Quilters of Gee's Bend

digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article...File Format:
PDF/Adobe Acrobat

by VF Phillips - 2007 - Related articles
Article 12. 2007. Symposium: Commodification, Intellectual. Property and the Quilters of Gee's Bend. Victoria F. Phillips. This Article is brought to you for free and ...

And to just note, Barbara Barran has commented that she was one was one of the first people to sign an agreement with the Arnetts an that she had been interviewed by a reporter at the Chicago Tribune and is working on a story with full explanations to come. She has been quoted as saying : "please keep an open mind about the Arnetts; they may be inept businessmen, but they care deeply about the women, and I would be extremely surprised to find that they had done anything dishonorable."

It will certainly be interesting to see just what comes out of all of this..."flash or cash" as the AP article has said!


Rose Johnston said...

hmm confusing!!...i sooo hope that the courts can decide what they need to decide!!!!....thats not what quilting is about....we share, we give and we r rewarded with the smiles!!!!

Shelina said...

Oh how sad this situation is for all parties involved. I hope it gets resolved smoothly. Thanks for sharing this info. I didn't know.