Quilts of Gees Bend began in a small rural community in Alabama. The artists are primarily women and are renowned for their very distinctive quilting style which has been passed done through 6 generations to today. Their quilts are bold, unique and geometric. Each quilt tells the story of the woman making it and it is said that she often sang while working on her quilt. Though the quilt tops were the work of one woman the quilts were at times completed by a small group of women.
The quilts of Gees Bend were made by women who lived in poverty. They pieced their quilts from old fabric scraps, discarded clothes, old bags etc. An art historian uncovered the story of how one women made an entire quilt out of all her deceased husband's clothes. She made it solely to comfort herself at the times she missed him most.
Seventy quilt masterpieces have been dispayed in 2002 at the Museum of Fine Arts. There have been further exhibitions of their quilts throughout America.The Quilts of Gee's Bend: Masterpieces from a Lost Place and Gee's Bend: The Women and Their Quilts . The Gee's Bend Quilters Collective was founded in 2003 with more than fifty mature women quilters. It was set up to sell and market the quilts that the women make. Every quilt sold by the Gee’s Bend Quilt Collective is unique, individually produced, and authentic and each quilt is signed by the quilter and labeled with a serial number. Unfortunately very few of the younger generation at Gee's Bend have an interest in quilting, so we may see this skill die out at Gee's Bend. In February 2012 a play opened in Albany that followed the lives of women who made these quilts. It starts in 1939 and tells the story of the life of a young girl Sadie (fictional) through to adulthood.
Since 1850 the land of Gees Bend was the site of cotton plantations and was owned by Joseph Gee and his relative Mark Pettway. During the great depression this land and its homes were purchased by the federal government for the community. Women often began having their families while young and hence learnt very few skills. The one skill that they did learn and often from their mothers, relatives etc was the craft of quilt making. Women with large families often made dozens upon dozens of quilts over the course of their lives. Once their quilts sold for as little os $10 and now can run well into the thousands.
Click here to view a selection of stunning
quilts of Gees Bend.
For more information visit Gees Bend collective quilt history.