26 November 2008

Quilts at the Museum

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Our local museum is currently running an exhibit of some of the Gee's Bend quilts: Mary Lee Bendolph, Gee's Bend Quilts and Beyond. Mary Lee Bendolph is one of Gee's Bend's quiltmakers and her work connects the older and the younger circles of quilt artists. This exhibit studies her relationships with other artists: her mother, her daughter, her daughter-in-law and two self-taught Alabama artists (a sculptor and a painter/sculptor). The exploration of her inspiration and creative process was presented with not only several of her actual quilts, but a maquette of a quilt and then the resulting art print. It would have been nice if the life-size version of the maquette and the print were on display as well. This is not a normal quilt show, but an art exhibit that was well presented and displayed.

Do you realize that these quilts are made from denim, corduroy, twill and other non-traditional quilting fabrics? They weigh a lot more than a normal 100% cotton quilt and it would be difficult to roll over when laying under one. I admire their ability to use what they have, but then that is the reasoning behind the early day pioneer quilts also, isn't it?

Have you seen a Gee's Bend exhibit? The pieces pack a powerful graphic punch.

*photo credit: Mary Lee Bendolph, Blocks and Strips, 2005, Corduroy, 84 x 81 inches

14 comments:

  1. Sounds like an interesting and fun exhibit.

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  2. I was just googling denim quilts last night and a bunch of Gee's Bend quilts showed up. I love their look. I have an old (but ugly) quilt that was a utility quilt given to my parents by my grandmother in 1941 when they married, and it wasn't new then. It weighs a ton, but I remember how safe I felt under it as a child.

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  3. We went to see them at the Fine Arts Museum in Houston a while back. Maybe a couple of years. I fell in love with a green corduroy quilt. I thought it was two fabrics, but closer inspection showed that all they did was change the direction of the nap. The corduroy "lines" made it look like a two tone quilt. Very neat. I loved the video they had playing too!

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  4. I got to see a Gee's Bend exhibit in Oshkosh Wisconsin and it was awe inspiring!

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  5. I haven't seen them . . . I wonder if they've been this way and I missed it. Wouldn't be a first for me *s*

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  6. No I haven't seen them in person. I have seen the big book and lots of photos on the internet. They certainly remind us how many "rules" have been made up about how quilts are "supposed" to be made.

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  7. I saw a large exhibit in Cleveland a few years ago and then more recently, there was a smaller exhibit here. I saw the one that you are talking about at a local gallery a few years ago and they did have some of the pieces that the ladies worked with to make the prints. I am always awed by these quilts.

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  8. I have seen them on TV I would love to go see them in person. I love the history of the different kinds of quilts

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  9. One of my quilty friends is a huge fan of the Gee's Bend quilts and a few months ago her hubby took her there so she could see the place for herself. They are certainly popular.

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  10. We get so fancy with our quilt designs that we forget the initial purpose of the quilt. It's refreshing to see a lowly utilitarian object that also has aesthetic appeal. In the past quilts were made of everything. During the Depression my grandmother made quilts using free wool fabrics samples from a sewing factory. Mom said she lined them with flannel and tacked them. They probably weighed 50 lb, but were nice and warm for the West Virginia coal camp winters.

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  11. I"ve always wanted to see them in real life! How cool that you got see the exhibit!

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  12. That's so good that they use what they have and create warm works of art!

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  13. Hi Paula,
    I have not had the good fortune to see these quilts in person but I have read about them in a couple of magazines and have a set of American stamps that a friend bought me when she was in the States. PBS has done a nice program on the Gee Bend Quilts. There are a couple of wonderful books about these quilts too. These women create wonderful unique quilts with whatever they had - I am sure the show was wonderful. How lucky you were to see them up close.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Regards,
    Anna

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  14. yes, I saw them when they came through here a few years back...very interesting quilts.

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