Quilts of Gee's Bend: Masterpieces from a Lost Place

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Since the 19th century, the women of Gee's Bend in southern Alabama have created stunning, vibrant quilts. Beautifully illustrated with 110 color illustrations, The Quilts of Gee's Bend includes a historical overview of the two hundred years of extraordinary quilt-making in this African-American community, its people, and their art-making tradition. This book is being┬Ěreleased in conjunction with a national exhibition tour including The Museum of Fine Art, Houston, and the ...
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Overview

Since the 19th century, the women of Gee's Bend in southern Alabama have created stunning, vibrant quilts. Beautifully illustrated with 110 color illustrations, The Quilts of Gee's Bend includes a historical overview of the two hundred years of extraordinary quilt-making in this African-American community, its people, and their art-making tradition. This book is being┬Ěreleased in conjunction with a national exhibition tour including The Museum of Fine Art, Houston, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Gee's Bend, Alabama, is a hamlet of 750 residents, most of whom are the descendants of slaves from the former Pettway plantation (and bear the surname Pettway), who during the New Deal purchased farms from the government. For much of the last century, the women of Gee's Bend have produced some of the most striking examples of American vernacular art, sharing them among the community and storing them within their homes. Aside from a brief stint of notoriety during a Civil Rights-era "Freedom Quilting Bee," this catalogue, accompanying an exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and New York's Whitney Museum of American Art, marks the work's entry into the public sphere. Founded by art collector William Arnett and Jane Fonda, the nonprofit Tinwood Alliance devotes itself to the cultural legacy of Gee's Bend, here offering 195 illustrations (162 in full color) documenting the quilts and the lives of many of their makers. The oversize format allows the many full-page reproductions to approximate the sensation of a large quilt spread on the page; the many "Housetop" quilts, with arresting geometric patterns and terrific color sense, speak for themselves. The book and exhibition make an important contribution to American cultural history. (Dec.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This distinctive volume provides an in-depth analysis of the African American quilts made in the isolated community of Gee's Bend, AL, which will be featured in an exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art through February 23. The 45 women highlighted represent four generations of quilt makers descended from slaves at the area's cotton plantations. During the Great Depression, Gee's Bend was photographed by Arthur Rothstein and Marion Post Wolcott of the Farm Security Administration. Inclusion of these photographs enhances the volume, as do the scholarly essays on the quilts' historical and artistic significance. The "portfolios" provide an account of the life of each woman, accompanied by photographs of her and her quilts. Identified as "my way" quilts, these works do not conform to traditional patterns. They were made to keep warm and were pieced from any available fabric in a "get it done" manner needed to survive harsh living conditions. Each is an individual expression of pattern and color comparable to works of modern art. Suitable for large art collections; for a broader view of this topic, see Roland Freeman's Communion of the Spirits: African-American Quilters, Preservers, and Their Stories.-Eloise R. Hitchcock, Middle Tennessee State Univ. Lib., Murfreesboro Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780965376648
  • Publisher: Tinwood Books
  • Publication date: 9/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 140
  • Product dimensions: 11.34 (w) x 13.51 (h) x 0.92 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2004

    Magnificent art, heroic and inspiring life stories

    I look at many museum and gallery shows in New York. By far, this is my VERY FAVORITE book of ART, even though there are many historically well-known artists whose work I enjoy looking at and am inspired by. I have always loved reading about artists' lives (especially in their own words), looking at fabric design and one-of-a kind quilts, especially African American 'crazy quilts'. Use of color is also an important interest of mine that this book strongly relates to. Each of the many times I have looked through this book, it is a fresh experience to find some new and subtle combination of colors that only an artist with a sophisticated aesthetic sense would come up with. Many of these quilts were made with only recycled clothing, all that was available, or scraps from textile factories. I had very much wanted to see the show at the Whitney, but was unable to, so I was not in the least disappointed when I grabbed this book. The women's brief but revealingly detailed comments about personal histories of themselves or other family quiltmakers is what makes this book so special to me in addition to the artworks. To realize that such beautiful art developed under such harsh living conditions (from childhood these strong, intelligent, and amazing women worked 10+ hours in the field, cared for their children, and lived with no heat, etc.) is helpful for any creative person to meditate on and use as a motivating example in your own creative work, whatever it is. The quilts of Gee's Bend range from some traditional patterns altered intuitively into minimal abstract painting style with sensitive color use, and others 'randomly' combining an aesthetically effective 'chaos' of colors and patterns with little geometric symmetry. This book does not give written pattern instructions; however, when I finally get around to making my own quilt, it will be designed and guided primarily and foremost by my study of the quilts of Gee's Bend. The author/editors writings are informative and progressive in their recognition of these quilts that are nicely illustrated with large-page color photos. I'm an avid reader (book fanatic) and this is the first time I have written a review, so you know how much I love this book! [P.S. to BN webmaster: my corrections on separating this into shorter paragraphs and puncuation corrections on 'chaos', 'crazy quilts', and 'randomlY' - all should be quotation marks or italics, not single quotation marks -- DID NOT GO THRU even after several attemps.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2002

    Free your mind, and a quilt will follow

    The power and passion of these utilitarian bits of neccesity is astounding. Most are not precision pieced, nor are they ornately and intricately adorned with 12 stitches per inch, but oh! They are awesome and intimidating nonetheless! I was inspired. The quilts teach us of the ingenuity, perseverance, and history of the Gee's Bend residents, and other post-slavery African-Americans by proxy. I must have the comprehensive book. If you think you are a quilter, I challenge you to not find yourself "redefined" after perusing this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2006

    these quilts are visually beautiful, awesome

    i saw a display of these quilts in person, at the milwaukee art museum, where many of the quiltmakers were also gathered together for recognition....i love the colors, designs, ingenuity, perseverence, overcoming of life's obsacles that these quilts represent.....they are an inspiration to me as an artist, and as a fellow survivor....

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