Cover image for The quilts of Gee's Bend
The quilts of Gee's Bend
Publication Information:
Tinwood Books in association with The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, c2002.
Physical Description:
190 p. : color illustrations.
Added Author:
Added Corporate Author:


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book Q 746.46 QUI 1 1

On Order



Since the 19th century, the women of Gee's Bend in southern Alabama have created stunning, vibrant quilts. Beautifully illustrated with 110 color illustrations, The Quilts of Gee's Bend includes a historical overview of the two hundred years of extraordinary quilt-making in this African-American community, its people, and their art-making tradition. This book is being·released in conjunction with a national exhibition tour including The Museum of Fine Art, Houston, and theWhitney Museum of American Art.

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Gee's Bend, Alabama, is a hamlet of 750 residents, most of whom are the descendants of slaves from the former Pettway plantation (and bear the surname Pettway), who during the New Deal purchased farms from the government. For much of the last century, the women of Gee's Bend have produced some of the most striking examples of American vernacular art, sharing them among the community and storing them within their homes. Aside from a brief stint of notoriety during a Civil Rights-era "Freedom Quilting Bee," this catalogue, accompanying an exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and New York's Whitney Museum of American Art, marks the work's entry into the public sphere. Founded by art collector William Arnett and Jane Fonda, the nonprofit Tinwood Alliance devotes itself to the cultural legacy of Gee's Bend, here offering 195 illustrations (162 in full color) documenting the quilts and the lives of many of their makers. The oversize format allows the many full-page reproductions to approximate the sensation of a large quilt spread on the page; the many "Housetop" quilts, with arresting geometric patterns and terrific color sense, speak for themselves. The book and exhibition make an important contribution to American cultural history. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

At first glance, the quilts of this collection are simply stunning--rich colors in surprising combinations, refreshingly irregular geometric compositions with hardly a right angle among them, big blocks whose seams virtually vibrate with energy. Then consider the history of the community they come from, and these quilts become a stunning illustration of resourcefulness. Gee's Bend, a remote peninsula on the Alabama River, is an isolated place, one that has known extreme poverty and struggle. Its quilters of the twentieth century are showcased here. Three insightful essays on the community's history and its quilting tradition make up for a self-consciously scholarly introduction. The words of the quilters themselves follow. Brief accounts of their lives and thoughts on quilting accompany full-page photographs of their accomplishments. This large-format hardcover, and coinciding exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, should guarantee the women of Gee's Bend the prominence they deserve in the story of the American quilt. --Marya Graff

Choice Review

The phenomenal artistic achievement of quilt makers in a rural African American community in southern Alabama is described here in a handful of essays that focus on the cultural, geographical, and historical aspects of the area, the quilts as pieces of art, and the individual quilt makers as artists. During the Depression the region was singled out for federal programs to lift it from extreme poverty. As part of the programs, the tightly knit isolated community of 700 African Americans and one white family in Gee's Bend was documented in photographs. Quilt making in the region has been part of an extensive cultural continuity, learned in childhood and practiced as a lifelong activity and necessity. The work, made of used clothing and Sears corduroy fabrics sent for assembly-line projects, reflects brilliant artistic talent, departure from convention, and spiritual content. The pieces selected for this publication--in connection with an exhibition organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Tinwood Alliance--is representative of hundreds of quilts made between the 1920s and the present. High-quality color pictures illustrate the beautifully designed, annotated volume. For those interested in anthropology and modernism. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General readers; upper-division undergraduates through professionals. M. Tulokas Rhode Island School of Design

Library Journal Review

This distinctive volume provides an in-depth analysis of the African American quilts made in the isolated community of Gee's Bend, AL, which will be featured in an exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art through February 23. The 45 women highlighted represent four generations of quilt makers descended from slaves at the area's cotton plantations. During the Great Depression, Gee's Bend was photographed by Arthur Rothstein and Marion Post Wolcott of the Farm Security Administration. Inclusion of these photographs enhances the volume, as do the scholarly essays on the quilts' historical and artistic significance. The "portfolios" provide an account of the life of each woman, accompanied by photographs of her and her quilts. Identified as "my way" quilts, these works do not conform to traditional patterns. They were made to keep warm and were pieced from any available fabric in a "get it done" manner needed to survive harsh living conditions. Each is an individual expression of pattern and color comparable to works of modern art. Suitable for large art collections; for a broader view of this topic, see Roland Freeman's Communion of the Spirits: African-American Quilters, Preservers, and Their Stories.-Eloise R. Hitchcock, Middle Tennessee State Univ. Lib., Murfreesboro (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.