June 6, 2007

Gee's Bend Quilts

The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore will be holding an exhibition "Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt" beginning June 17th. This show of quilts is quite a departure for the Walters, which has a permanent collection ranging from ancient Egyptian jewelry to 18th century masters paintings.

Gee's Bend quilts have caused a sensation around the country, and earlier this year, the US Postal Service issued a series of stamps commemorating these graphic, non-traditional quilts, made by the women of the tiny Gee's Bend village in Alabama.
These quilts are very different from traditional American quilts in that they don't follow the typical patterns like Log Cabin, Drunkard's Path or Flying Geese. Instead, these are free-form quilts, with long strips making stripes or squares. The fabric was from used clothing, including some 1970's polyester leisure suits, flour sacks and old blue jeans. Auburn University, which is close to Gee's Bend has some a webpage with loads of images.
Contemporary quiltmaker, Denyse Schmidt has quilts which are very derivative of the Gee's Bend quilts, and her couture line of quilts begins at a whopping $4,000! But they are very beautiful.
Copies of the definitive book, "Gee's Bend: The Women and Their Quilts" are selling used for more than $280.00 on Amazon! The book is illustrated with 350 colour illustrations and 50 black and white photograph, though. On Friday, June 15th, the Walters will host a discussion with some of the quilters. It should be a wonderful event and I am planning to go see the show, especially since the Walters is just a few blocks from my offices.


  1. I know you are probably sick of my publishing comments but I worked on the Gee's Bend Book! Jane Fonda funded a lot of it as her daughter is/was married to (I think) one of the guys that publicized Gee's Bend and the quilts. Some people say exploited but I will say publicized!

  2. P.S. Can you believe I don't have a copy of the darn book?

  3. Neat quilts. I love the Walters. They had a neat temporary exhibit on the Koran as art. Very interesting stuff, and some itty bitty Korans, I might add. Plus a MASSIVE page from a MASSIVE Koran.


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