Showing posts with label Gees Bend/African American Quilters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gees Bend/African American Quilters. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Gee's Bend Quilters 2021

"The Gee's Bend Quilters Are Selling Their World-Renowned Wares on Etsy."

"Quilts made by the women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, are, according to The New York Times, “Some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced.”

 They’ve been immortalized on U.S. postage stamps and hung in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. When Amy Sherald painted Michelle Obama’s stunning official portrait, she said that the quilts of Gee’s Bend inspired her depiction of the first lady’s dress.

And yet the women quilters of Gee’s Bend—most of whom are descendants of enslaved people forced to work on the Gee family’s cotton plantation—have reaped few financial rewards, despite decades of acclaim. 

Quilts bearing the Gee’s Bend name may have graced museum walls from the Smithsonian to the de Young in San Francisco, but the majority of households in the town have an income of under $10,000 a year, Bloomberg reported in 2018. 

Part of the problem is that the quilting collective hasn’t been able to monetize their art. Gee’s Bend, officially known as Boykin, is far from a tourist destination; it’s surrounded on three sides by the Alabama river, underfunded and isolated.

That’s not an accident. In 1962 white politicians shut down the Gee’s Bend ferry to prevent Black residents from voting. “We didn’t close the ferry because they were Black,” the sheriff reportedly bragged. 

“We closed it because they forgot they were Black.” Martin Luther King, Jr., visited Gee’s Bend three years later. 

“I came over here to Gee’s Bend to tell you, you are somebody,” he told the fired-up crowd, which included Gee’s Bend civil rights quilters who participated in the famed Freedom Quilting Bee."

Gratitude to Glamour Magazine for contents and photos shared here. ๐Ÿ’œ

And yes this one is now sold!

These are all most likely made by descendents of the original group that I so enjoyed during their lecture and quilt show, participation as part of the SOQS Picnic and Book Signing/Purchase outside of Jean Well's Fabric Shop
"The Stitchin' Post" in 2009.

Original Groups Quilts Shown Below Now in Private Homes/Museums

Michele Bilyeu Creates *With Heart and Hands*: Gee's Bend Quilters
Photos 2009
Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show Visit 

Lecture/Singing/ Their Quilts 

Gee's Bend Quilters sing as they sign autographs. Pictured among the group are: China Pettway, Loretta Bennett, Mary Ann Pettway,Revil Mosely, Louisiana Bendolph, Lucy Mingo, Florine Smith. Taken in front of the Stitchin' Post, Sisters Oregon, July 11, 2009 

In the Beginning:
Michele Bilyeu Creates
*With Heart and Hands*

The Gees Bend Quilters

Michele Bilyeu Creates *With Heart and Hands*: The Saga of Gee's Bend: Continues....


Handed my camera to another quilters and was so thrilled to get in on their fun!

Loved loved loved these fabulous ladies.

๐Ÿ’œ Blessings and Gratitude Abound ๐Ÿ’œ

Michele Bilyeu Creates *With Heart and Hands*: The Gee's Bend Quilters

Michele Bilyeu Creates *With Heart and Hands*: The Saga of Gee's Bend: Continues....

Michele Bilyeu Creates *With Heart and Hands*: Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show 2009

Michele Bilyeu Creates *With Heart and Hands*: Gee's Bend Quilters Sing

(My personal video)

Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands as she shares her imaginative, magical, and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon. Creating, designing, sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting... from my heart and with my hands

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Bold Expressions

Bold Expressions: African American Quilts from the Collection of Corrine Rile
y the exhibit displays stunning colors and wonderfully liberating patterns unique to the American Folk Art tradition and popularized by the perhaps, better known quilters of Gee's Bend. As with the other quilts in those collections, these celebrate bold improvisational skills and modern takes on traditional quilt blocks and patterns. Many of the quilts are made from found materials of old flour sacks, jean materials and old work clothes utilizing a variety of construction techniques and quilting styles.

Bold Expressions: African American Quilts from the Collection of Corrine Rileycan be seen at the Bellevue Arts Museum June 14 - October 7, 2012
And while no truly liberated and unique quilt should be copied or come with a pattern, the pdf gives fabulous ideas for what blocks actually appear in many of the quilts and help us to see the non traditional mindset as it evolves through both creative expression and necessity of use of the materials available at the time to these amazing quilters.

Makes you want to cut up some old clothes, doesn't it. But then, if you have been previously inspired by other such exhibits, as I have been by the Gee's Bend might be running out of old clothes! Beautiful visual delights no matter what!

Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey through her life in Salem, Oregon and Douglas, Alaska. Sharing thousands of links to Free Quilt and Quilt Block Patterns and encouraging others to join in the Liberated Quilting Challenge and make or donate small art quilts to the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) Help us change the world, one little quilt at a time!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sisters OR: The Little Town With a Big Heart


 If you were one of an estimated 10-12,000 people in Sisters, Oregon for the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show this July, you might be in this 10 minute video

Sponsored by the Stitchin' Post and created by showcases the quilters of Gee's Bend (listen to them sing 'I'll Fly Away...", Janet Storton and her amazing Ugandan ministry "Sisters of the Heart" interview, and the hearts from around the world that keep on giving....the fabric postcards of the 'Wendy' Wish" project.





It also showcases the thousands of quilters walking the streets of Sisters, looking at and yes, touching! the beautiful quilts that covered every building, fence, table, store wall, quilted car, and yes filled the hearts of each and every one of us who viewed them! 




What it can't show, is the amazing depth of the heartfelt joy and complete and utter beauty you find every single place you look! The first quilt in this post. the dark blue one also shown above, epitomizes that joy.

 Stitched by the "The Coffee Creek Quilters", a group of minimum security inmates of the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility. It not only showcases the freedom and joy they feel when they sew and quilt, but the love and joy they feel as they make quilts o give away, to use to earn money for their continuing program and eventually, even a quilt they can keep for themselves or a loved one.(check their website link to see student quilts) In weekly classes, the students make three quilts, two to give to charity, the third one to keep. 

As this group of women quilt, they try to imagine just who might receive one of their quilts, what kinds of lives they might live, and just how much they might feel the love that they, the quilters put into every bit of fabric, and each and every stitch. And in that emotive process, how can they not help but to feel just how their own lives might transition, growth and develop in that process of empathic, joy, caring, and giving back? 

 The heart of the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, of the quilts, of the fabric covered buildings, and the of the people of the town, itself as to be felt to be believed. It's a feeling that can only be described as a super charged atmospheric rush of emotion and pure heartfelt joy as you see the beauty of gifted hands combined with loving hearts and the undeniable gifts of creation. 


Whenn Jean Wells, owner of the Stitchin' Post imagined the very first Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in 1975 and its showcasing of !2, yes 12!, quilts, she could never have imagined that it would skyrocket to being one of the premier quilt shows in the country and one of the very best outdoor quilt shows in the world! 





  Jean Wells speaking of the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show: "My whole goal was for people to be able to share what they had done rather than to have a judged or juried show to pick the best quilt. I wanted it to be a day of sharing."


And a day of sharing it truly is. You walk the streets, parks, alleyways and lawns of this beautiful little western themed logging town, and the beauty of the people, the quilts and the every present sunshine just flows into every pore in your body. As Ann Richardson, the Quilt Show's executive director says "Think show and tell...that's what our show is. 

If you're proud of your quilt, we're happy to show it." The show relies on over 500 volunteers to make the portable hanging frames (and the Sister's High School cross country team puts them up!) to hang the quilts (everyone from the owner's of the building's own family, to every volunteer in and out of town) with regular clothespins from guide wires, wood stripping bars, to teepee-like wood frames, and the walls and storefronts of buildings. 

 With the week before the show known as "The Quilters Affaire" , dozens of classes taught by 36 national, even world-class teachers, lectures series such as that of the ladies of Gee's Bend in the High School auditorium, to the fabulous picnic with indescribably good food catered by Tate and Tate of Bend, on real plates served by members of the Sisters High School Cheer team, the fun begins on a Monday and culminates in the big show on Saturday. 

 And the heart of the show lies in just not the spirit of the showcasing of the textile art of quilting, but it what quilting creates and gives back to a larger community. This year quilts were showcased as part of Janet Storton's "Sisters of the Heart" ministry which now teaches young girls in Kapchorwa, Uganda to quilt as a means of earning a living (watch the video for details!)  





And then there was Cindy Pierce's project "Wendy's Wish'" a fabric postcard sale that has earned almost $50,000 in just three years in memory of her friend Wendy who died of colon cancer. With donations of fabric postcards from all over the world, it's personifies the very spirit of why we quilt and what that gift can give to others in so many different ways. (Click on link to see how YOU can donate a card for next year's show!)


Combined with that project, the lovely framed postcard art of the showcased Quilt Show teachers. Individually custom framed by the High Desert Gallery, the postcards were outstanding examples of the quality of not only this year's teaching staff, but of the beauty of this fabric art in even miniature versions. 




The atmosphere of this charming little town, the unbelievable beauty of quilts splashing color everywhere you look, and the warmth and the love that just pours out of every stitch of creation, and every heart beat of intention flows forth with a radiance that is not only seen but felt! 

  ****And for my usual Frugal Friday freebie : enjoy a free visit to the big heart of the Sisters Out Outdoor Quilt Show in news and video...**** Nuggest News-- Sisters Oregon: video

Free Gee's Bend Quilter's Pattern:

Loretta Pettway Bennett created a Pine Burr Quilt for the State of Alabama while participating in the Alabama State council on the Arts Foklife apprenticeship grogram. Loretta's mother, Quinnie Pettway, was one of the orginal Gee's Bend Quiltes and taught Loretta how to make it. On March 11, 1997 it was officially designated as the "State Quilt" of Alabama.