Gee’s Bend Quilts
I’m looking at these quilts in relation to their composition and my final piece for Assignment 5.
Generations of quiltmakers in Gee’s Bend, Alabama have recycled work clothes, feed sacks, flour sacks and fabric remnants to make improvisational quilts creating outstanding abstract textile art. I found it fascinating to look through the quilts on the Souls Grown Deep website and admire their artistry.
There is a more detailed explanation of the quilts and their makers here: http://soulsgrowndeep.org/gees-bend-quiltmakers
and some examples here:
The simpler designs are more appealing to me (bars, string pieced, blocks and strips and blocks of different sizes) and I particularly like the quilts made from work clothes, the patina of the fabric and their limited palettes. I like the movement created by the freehand cut pieces, the slightly irregular squares and rectangles, the gentle curves created by the improvised methods. The white in the middle and right hand quilts contribute to the energy.
The quilt above on the left has some similarities to my piece, although mine is much busier. I like the simplicity of Lucy Mooney’s design, I can now see that my piece has too many little patterns fighting for attention. Although up close some of that detail is inviting, it might benefit from being simpler. Looking at both converted to black and white (see below), there is less variation in tone in my piece when compared to Lucy’s which makes my piece less dynamic. I’m also keen on the gentle curves in the quilt and although I set out to achieve a softer, less uniform look to the edges and shapes of the original pieces, the addition of the smaller rectangular pieces has detracted from the original shapes.
SIGNS & SYMBOLS: African Images in African American Quilts by Maude Southwell
Maude Southwell and her colleague, John Scully curated an exhibition of African American quilts at the Yale School of Art Gallery in January 1980 and identified seven traits that appeared to distinguish African American quilts from Anglo-American traditional forms.
They tended towards vertical strips, bright colours, large designs, asymmetry, improvisation, multiple patterning and symbolic forms.
I haven’t been able to borrow a copy of the above book and am reluctant to purchase it at this point. I have looked at it briefly on http://www.amazon.co.uk and see that it includes several of the Gee’s Bend Quilt Artists. There is an emphasis on symbols which might be interesting but I feel I have more than enough information to work with at the moment without adding signs and symbols to the pot at this late stage.