A Pair of Gee’s Bend Quilts on View at Zach Feuer

NEW YORK—“Context Message,” a group show featuring 39 artists is on view at Zach Feuer, where works in various mediums are staged and suspended throughout the gallery. Anyone familiar with the craftsmanship of the women of Gee’s Bend, Ala., will immediately recognize a pair of quilts exhibited prominently at the center of the space. Pieced together with strips of worn clothing and linens, the quilts were made by black women in Gee’s Bend, a rural community on a remote Alabama peninsula.

The fabric works had been produced for more than two centuries for warmth and practical utility when they were “discovered” by collector William Arnett. He visited Gee’s Bend in 1998 and struck by the remarkable artistry of the women’s work, set his sights on introducing the quilts, and the women who made them, to the wider world. Recognized as modern fine art, the one-of-a-kind designs by the likes of Mary Lee Bendolph, Ruth P. Moseley and Lola Pettaway were exhibited in major U.S. museums in 2002 and 2007, where they were met with rave reviews.

“Context Message” runs from June 21 to Aug. 3, 2012.

Photos by Arts Observer

Above, The reverse side of the quilts, from left, “Bricklayer,” late 1970s or early ’80s (verso 2001, showing) is a two-sided quilt with bars on reverse by Mary Lee Bendolph and Ruth P. Mosely; and “Housetop Medalion,” 2004 (is a more recently made quilt) by Lola Pettaway. Top of page, From left, “Housetop Medallion” and “Bricklayer.”

Hear curators discuss the Gee’s Bend quilts on NPR.

Read an article about the quilts, the women and their community in Smithsonian Magazine.

Explore a project about the quilts at Auburn University.

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