Thursday, March 17, 2011

Women's History Month -- The Quilters of Gee's Bend

A Gee's Bend quilt......

I used to sew and quilt – I even worked in a quilt shop.  I’ve recently enjoyed reading about Gee’s Bend, where six generations of women created a succession of bold, geometric and sophisticated quilts in an isolated African-American community in Alabama……

My painting of a young quilter, inspired
 by the women of Gee’s Bend

Their improvisational skills were passed down from mother to daughter, creating artful interpretations to satisfy a practical need. Discovered by an art collector, a collection of 70 quilts were first exhibited in 2002. The next year the Gee’s Bend Quilters’ Collective was founded, owned and operated by the women of Gee’s Bend themselves.  They created and sold their own work, signing each quilt. And in 2006 the U.S. Postal Service produced postage stamps commemorating quilts made between 1940 and 2001.

The New York Times described the Gee’s Bend quilts as “some of the most marvelous works of modern art America has produced.” Their designs have been licensed, emulated and re-interpreted, marketed as kits, magnets, ties and coffee mugs.

Unlike many of the Early American homemakers, whose art is appreciated but whose identity is unknown, the originators of the Gee’s Bend quilts are known. Their makers are not anonymous. They’re from Gee’s Bend. And their works are signed.

I’m the guest blogger today at Kidlit Celebrates Women’s History Month 2011.  It’s a special blog set up this year to commemorate women in history with guest posts from members of the children's and young adult literature community.  Check it out!

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